Pence and Fauci give different takes on coronavirus outbreak at first task force briefing in nearly two months

At the coronavirus task force briefing on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence said the country was making “remarkable progress” in dealing with the pandemic, while Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. is facing “a serious problem in certain areas.” It was the first briefing since April 27.

Video Transcript

MIKE PENCE: As we reported today, we have now more than 2,500,000 Americans that have contracted the coronavirus. And, sadly, we've lost more than 126,000 of our countrymen to this disease. And I know I speak for the president and for every American when we express our sympathies and our deepest condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones.

Despite those losses, since the end of our 45 days to slow the spread and the beginning of efforts to open up America, thanks to the cooperation of the American people, the efforts of governors and state health officials, efforts I want to proudly say of the entire federal team under the leadership of President Trump, we have made truly remarkable progress in moving our nation forward. We've all seen the encouraging news as we open up America again-- more than 3 million jobs created in the last jobs report, retail sales are rolling, and, of course, the extraordinary progress in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Orleans, areas that just a matter of a month ago were struggling under the weight of this pandemic that now have arrived at a very, very different place.

ANTHONY FAUCI: It's very clear from the maps that you saw that there are certain areas of the country-- states, towns, cities, regions-- that are doing very well, that have followed the guidelines and are opening up in a prudent way that's been effective. However, as you can see, we are facing a serious problem in certain areas.

Now, when you look at the map, it's very interesting, because you see some dark parts of the map and some light parts of the map. We have a very heterogeneous country, but heterogeneity does not mean that we are not intimately interconnected with each other. So what goes on in one area of the country ultimately could have an effect on the other areas of the country.

So let's take a look at this problem that we're facing now, this resurgence of cases. I don't think there's time enough now all day to try and analyze and figure out the multifaceted elements that went into that, you know, everything from maybe opening a little bit too early on some to opening at the right time but not actually following the steps in an orderly fashion to actually trying to follow the steps in an orderly fashion, but the citizenry did not feel that they wanted to do that for a number of reasons, likely because everyone feels the common feeling of being pent up for such a long period of time.

So I just want to make a plea with people, when they understand the stress that they're under, as we try to tackle not only those states but the light-colored part of the country, even though they've done well-- they may have gotten hit badly like New York and then came down, or they may not have got hit badly at all-- they are vulnerable. If we don't extinguish the outbreak, sooner or later, even ones that are doing well are going to be vulnerable to the spread. So we need to take that into account because we are all in it together. And the only way we're going to end it is by ending it together.

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