Vice President Mike Pence was tapped by President Donald Trump himself to coordinate White House Coronavirus response efforts — and the net result of that appointment, it turns out, is Pence going on national television to spout gibberish when Americans’ lives hang in the balance. During a CNN interview this Thursday morning in which host Alisyn Camerota questioned him about the rate of testing for the Coronavirus in the U.S. — which has seen significantly slower testing rates than other affected countries — Pence offered contradictory answers and insisted that something definitive would, supposedly, come soon — which the administration has been claiming in various forms for weeks on end.
As of early Thursday, there’d been 38 confirmed deaths from the Coronavirus in the United States, and more than 1,310 cases of the disease had been confirmed in the U.S. overall, all of which are spread across the vast majority of states. Yet — Pence still struggled to provide a definitive, obviously acutely relevant answer.
Referring to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, Camerota pointed out:
‘The numbers suggest that the most testing was done March 5th! Then, as you move forward each day, it gets a little bit less… so why are the number of tests going down?’
Pence replied by suggesting the officially reported numbers were incorrect. He insisted:
‘Well, I don’t believe they are, Alisyn. One of the things we’re working on is a central reporting website where every state in the country and territory can let CDC and the American people know the number of tests.’
So — does Pence have any more details? No, he apparently does not, even as the major economic impacts of the Coronavirus pile up.
‘But if you’re saying the CDC website numbers are wrong, how many tests have been conducted in the U.S.?’
The answer, of course, would have grave relevance because of the possibility that undertesting could give outbreak clusters the space to grow without any kind of knowledge until it’s essentially too late. Pence didn’t have an answer; instead, he replied:
‘I’m not saying they’re wrong, Alisyn, I’m saying they may not be complete because we don’t necessarily today collect all the information from state laboratories.’
So are they wrong or are they not? And why doesn’t the vice president even have an idea of the number of tests for the Coronavirus that have been conducted in the United States? Are they fumbling that much in the dark here?
Asked yet again after the above if he had any idea about the number of tests that had been done, he said he’d “leave that to the experts.” Watch:
Pence’s comments came the morning after President Trump announced the suspension of passenger flights to and from a slew of European countries, which the European Union criticized as rash but Pence defended on Thursday morning.
The vice president claimed:
‘Our health experts would disagree very strongly with the view that the acts the president took last night were not called for. We learned yesterday that 70% of all the new cases of coronavirus in the world happened in Europe.’
Correction: 70 percent of the new documented cases of the virus. If someone is never tested because of the Trump administration’s bungled procedures, then they can’t exactly be counted among new cases whether or not they have the virus, now can they?