Pence, holding only the second meeting of the Coronavirus Task Force this month, shrugged off the increased cases – more than 3 million infected and over 250,000 deaths.
He told members of the task force he thinks the media have been ‘crying wolf’ about the virus, leaving Americans less likely to take the latest surge seriously, sources told Bloomberg News.
The Coronavirus Task Force, which the vice president heads, is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, according to Pence’s schedule.
Vice President Mike Pence dismissed the rising rate of coronavirus cases as the media ‘crying wolf’ in a meeting of the Coronavirus Task Force
Once a daily meeting, the task force fell by the wayside as the presidential campaign reached its fever pitch. Pence has reconvened the group, which usually meets in a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office building across the street from the White House.
But another administration official took a different stance when talking about the pandemic, which has seen cases rise as the weather gets colder.
‘We are in an absolutely dangerous situation that we have to take with the utmost seriousness,’ said Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services and member of the Coronavirus Task Force.
‘This is not crying wolf,’ he said on MSNBC on Wednesday. ‘This is the worst rate of rise in cases that we have seen in the pandemic in the United States.’
Pence heads the White House task force on the pandemic. He also held a virtual briefing with the nation’s governors on Monday, where part of the conversation were on the promising vaccine trials announced by Moderna and Pfizer.
‘Coronavirus Task Force had a 2+ hour call with Governors to review vaccine distribution plans after 2 HUGE announcements from Moderna & Pfizer. Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re ensuring every state has what they need to deliver a vaccine to every American!,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Vice President Pence also held a virtual briefing with governors and the Coronavirus Task Force on Monday
Vice President Pence did not wear a face mask in a picture of the meeting he posted to his Twitter account
Joe Biden said in a briefing on Wednesday that the Trump administration is hampering their ability to fight the ‘war’ on COVID because they are not getting access to government resources
In that conversation he also reassured the governors they would have the hospital beds and equipment they need to combat the rising case load.
Pence ‘updated governors on the unprecedented medical and supply mobilization to support state and hospital needs,’ according to a read out from the vice president’s office.
But he didn’t advocate for additional safety measures to slow the spread as fear grows the Thanksgiving holiday could result in an additional bump in cases.
And he was the only task force member in the meeting not wearing a face mask, according to pictures he posted to his Twitter account.
Other administration officials are encouraging Americans to limit their gatherings.
‘As we look ahead to Thanksgiving next week, I urge Americans to listen to guidance from their state and local governments, and consult CDC’s guidelines about how gatherings can be made as safe as possible,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
‘The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people you live with and through virtual celebrations,’ he added. ‘Gathering indoors with people who aren’t members of your household is a high-risk activity for spreading the virus.’
Some governors have started to impose new coronavirus restrictions as the cases surge – limiting the number of public gatherings and enforcing the wearing of face masks.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to shut out President-elect Joe Biden and his team.
Biden said Wednesday the delayed transition process is slowing down his ‘war’ on COVID as the General Services Administration refuses to ‘ascertain’ his victory, which means transition team cannot speak to federal agencies about the transfer of power or have access to federal funds.
Biden, in a virtual briefing with frontline healthcare workers, said that is hampering his ability to fight the pandemic, which has killed more than 250,000 Americans.
‘This is like going to war,’ he said of combating the coronavirus.
‘I am optimistic, but we should be further along’ in the transition process, he noted.
President Donald Trump has refused to concede the contest, has tweeted multiple times he’s the ‘winner’ and has launched a series of lawsuits in battleground states. But most of the lawsuits have gone no where, his campaign has turned up no evidence of major voter fraud, and Biden has won 306 electoral votes – more than enough to take the presidency.