During the first White House coronavirus task force press briefing in months Vice President Mike Pence noted that COVID-19 cases have risen across the nation, but he also offered a hopeful message for Americans regarding efforts to battle the public health crisis.
“Now cases are rising throughout the country,” Pence said. “Positivity in the last 30 days has risen from an average of 5% to 10%.”
The vice president said, “with the massive increase in testing over the last 10 months, with PPE and medical supplies and equipment that are available to the Americn people, with the medicines and the therapeutics and very soon the vaccines that are available, America has never been more prepared to combat this virus than we are today.”
“Also as we gather more than 140 clinical trials for therapeutics continue to be underway but effective therapies are already available,” Pence said. He also said that the death rate for people older than 70 has gone down “by more than 70% since those heartbreaking days of April.”
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci noted that vaccines are coming soon, but he said people should engage in public health precautions like wearing masks and other practices.
“We’re not talking about shutting down the country,” Fauci said. “We’re not talking about locking down. We’re talking about intensifying the simple public health measures that we all take about: Mask wearing…avoding congregate settings, doing things to the extent that we can outdoors instead of indoors,” he said.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield discussed the importance of public health precautions and spoke against the idea of shutting down schools.
“And I’m here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K through 12 schools, as well as institutes of higher learning really are not where we’re having our challenges,” Redfield said. “And it would be counterproductive from my point of view, from a public health point of view, just in containing the epidemic, if there was an emotional response to say ‘let’s close the schools.'”