Vice President Mike Pence argued Tuesday that “panic is overblown” surrounding the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 despite fears of a resurgence of the virus that shuttered the economy and killed more than 100,000 Americans.
“In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown,” Pence wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. “Lost in the coverage is the fact that today less than 6 percent of Americans tested each week are found to have the virus.”
The vice president noted “more than half” of the states are seeing case numbers decline or remain stable.
He added that daily infections in the U.S. were dropping to an average of 20,000, down from 30,000 per day in April and 25,000 in May. Pence, the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, noted that deaths were down to an average of 750 per day, down from 2,500 per day a few weeks ago. He said the U.S. is now performing roughly 500,000 coronavirus tests per day.
Pence said the U.S. is funding research into multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates and “we are well on our way to having a viable vaccine by the fall.”
“The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different,” the vice president wrote. “We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future. That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear-mongering.”
So far, the U.S. has faced more than 2.1 million coronavirus infections and 116,000 deaths.
Fears of a second wave of the pandemic have circulated not only as states begin to reopen but also as tens of thousands took to the streets in close proximity to protest the death of George Floyd.
Concerns have been expressed by critics after President Trump announced his first rally since the start of the lockdowns will be held in Tulsa, Okla., this Saturday. Trump allies slammed critics in the media who expressed concerns about the rally but not about the ongoing protests. The Trump campaign promised to take necessary precautions, giving temperature checks and distributing masks and hand sanitizer to rally attendees.
A number of states, such as Florida and Texas, have found record numbers of new coronavirus cases in the past few weeks. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Carolina all had record numbers of new cases this week, though the vice president would attribute the spike to an increase in testing.
A handful of states have seen a sizable increase in hospitalizations, but a majority, 37, have continued on a downward trend. Five states have maintained flat hospitalization rates, according to the Covid Tracking Project.