Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday evening sang a happy tune while leading the White House coronavirus task force’s first briefing since late April, which came a day after the country passed the grim milestone of more than 250,000 fatalities from COVID-19 and amid surging cases nationwide.
Familiar task force faces such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, CDC Director Robert Redfield and HHS Secretary Alex Azar appeared by Pence’s side. However, President Trump was nowhere in insight and neither was Scott Atlas, the contrarian doctor who has become Trump’s favorite adviser on COVID-19 due to the doctor’s push to reopen the country, after a week full of incendiary comments.
While Birx sounded the alarm by warning of “a lot of asymptomatic cases” contributing to COVID-19 surges and issuing a stern warning ahead of the holiday season — which doubles down on the CDC advising against Thanksgiving-related travel earlier Thursday — Pence and Azar struck an entirely different tone.
After Azar concluded his remarks by saying his “message is hope and help is on the way,” in light of recent announcements from both Pfizer and Moderna that its vaccine trials have preliminarily proven 95% efficacy, Pence repeated Trump’s misleading assessment of the country’s surging COVID-19 rates.
Pence concluded his remarks by saying that the task force sees “the light at the end of the tunnel” before repeating Trump’s unfounded assertion that the country is “rounding the corner.”
The VP ended the briefing by leaving the podium without taking any questions from reporters.
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