The Coronavirus has infected around 1,300 people and counting in the United States, and it’s killed dozens of people across the country — but this Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence didn’t even have an idea of the supposed actual number of tests for the virus that have been conducted in the U.S. Pence was named as the leader for the White House Coronavirus response — and weeks after the illness first emerged in the U.S., he didn’t even have that basic information. It’s hardly the only recent potentially dangerous gaffe, and Twitter users observing the situation quickly poured on the criticism after a slew of morning appearances from Pence on television.
Pence just said on Fox: “The risk to Americans of contracting the virus remains low” & “We’ll have thousands of cases”
Congress' in-house doctor told Hill staffers he expects 70-150 million Americans to contract the virus (Axios)
Who’s right? Thousands or tens of millions?
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) March 12, 2020
They sent the @VP to clean up after the train wreck of an Oval Office address this morning but he seemed flummoxed on @CNN just now by questions about how many Americans are being tested for the Coronavirus—which seems like a pretty basic, and crucial, piece of data
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) March 12, 2020
Pence is LYING right now on CNN about coronavirus testing!! He just said anyone who wanted a test could get one with Drs orders. THAT IS A LIE!!! I tried to get a friend tested last night and was told no. The US is f$&ing this up.
— jacque reid (@jacquereid) March 12, 2020
This AM, Pence was asked directly how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus
He is leading the US response
He said he would “leave that to the experts”
So he doesn’t know how many Americans have been tested or is keeping it secret
Either way it’s disqualifying
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 12, 2020
Besides his struggles to account for basic aspects of the testing situation as-is, Pence also attempted some clean-up after President Donald Trump bungled his announcement of a partial travel ban affecting Europe. In his initial remarks, Trump failed to clarify the exact date it goes into effect, the fact that American citizens won’t be affected, and that cargo shipments will be exempt from the ban. None of those points are particularly low-key or irrelevant! Pence attempted to simply ignore the “confusion” that Trump wrought — beyond belief, he insisted to one CNN host that there wasn’t any confusion at all.
Vice President Mike Pence said this morning on CNN that there wasn't any confusion about the President's annoucement of the travel ban. If true, why did Acting head of DHS need to issue this correction? https://t.co/MukcE6QOgh
— Rachel Martin (@rachelnpr) March 12, 2020
In short — his fealty was cracking under pressure. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) insisted:
‘Dear @VP : In this crisis, good policy is measured by whether it is clear & effective, not “historic.” Your former Homeland Security Advisor said EU ban, which is riddled with holes, is of little use. THE VIRUS IS ALREADY HERE & CAN SPREAD EXPONENTIALLY. What we need is testing.’
Dear @VP: In this crisis, good policy is measured by whether it is clear & effective, not “historic.” Your former Homeland Security Advisor said EU ban, which is riddled with holes, is of little use.
THE VIRUS IS ALREADY HERE & CAN SPREAD EXPONENTIALLY. What we need is testing. https://t.co/5HGis8xnPM
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 12, 2020
Pence claimed that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documenting the number of Coronavirus tests conducted was incorrect, yet he provided no apparent further clarification about the actual figure. His failures come as the crisis continues to compound — this Thursday morning, for the second time in a week, stock markets fell so sharply that the New York Stock Exchange paused trading altogether for 15 minutes.
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) March 12, 2020
While evading answers on infection rates and testing numbers, Pence blames China and Europe *and* singles out "California, Washington, and NY" for blame for community spread. COVID-19's in *44 states* and the VP is still telling Inner America the problem is with Others Out There https://t.co/T3oBTbKlLq
— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) March 12, 2020
TRUMP: Don't wash your hands.
PENCE: The President was clear you should wash your hands.
TRUMP: Everyone has a test.
PENCE: As the President said, we'll have a few 1000 tests ready Monday.
TRUMP: We stopped CoronaVirus.
PENCE: I agree with Trump, the problem could last a while.
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) March 12, 2020
Check out Twitter’s response below: