Vice President Mike Pence delivered remarks to U.S. Public Health Services employees in Rockville, Maryland, and reported updates on the work of the federal government to combat surging coronavirus cases across the country.

There are more than 2.6 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 129,000 deaths. Roughly half of all new coronavirus cases pop up in four states: California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. 

Pence: We’re in a much better place than we were four months ago or even two months ago.

Pence noted that fatalities are at the lowest level since the end of March, when most states entered lockdown to brace themselves for the spread of the virus. 

“We continue to be vigilant as we see rising cases, we understand that that could change but again, to see the precipitous decline in fatalities is a tribute to the health care workers in this country and to the cooperation and the compassion of the American people,” Pence said.

Pence traveled across the country to brief with officials regarding their state’s coronavirus response. He was in Texas last weekend and should visit Arizona and Florida this week.

“We’re in a much better place than we were four months ago or even two months ago,” Pence said.

At the present, all 50 states are on track to reopen, even though some slowed down efforts in response to the new outbreaks. Pence emphasized that the federal government “fully supports” the additional guidance and preventative measures taken by state officials in reopening the country.

Pence wrapped up his remarks by telling the American people to wear a mask; he himself donned one before delivering his address. 

Despite the Trump’s administration’s mixed messaging on masks — Pence visited Mayo Clinic without one in April and Trump still chooses to forgo wearing masks at public events — Republican leaders shifted their positions on this subject. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday, “what we’re all trying to demonstrate for everybody in the country is, the single most important thing you can do — not only to protect yourself but to protect others — until we get a vaccine, is put on a mask. It’s not complicated.”

Pence made his remarks on the same day Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared before Congress to address the nation’s coronavirus response. Fauci warned Congress members that the U.S., now seeing 40,000 new cases a day, could more than double that figure if the public fails to follow safety guidelines. 

Candy Chan

Candy Chan is studying History with a focus on War and Revolution at Barnard College. She is currently a staff writer at the Columbia Daily Spectator, covering issues pertaining to Columbia's...