Amid the surge of new coronavirus cases in the United States, the White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Pence, held its first briefing in nearly two months, signaling a recognition that the administration can’t ignore the alarming increases.
Watch the vice president’s remarks in the player above.
Pence gave assurances that “this moment in the coronavirus pandemic is different than what we saw two months ago.” He said that among other things, the U.S. has more supplies on hand now, with no requests from hard-hit states for equipment such as ventilators and protective gear.
Texas and Florida clamped down on bars again Friday in the nation’s biggest retreat yet as a surge across the South and West sent the number of confirmed new coronavirus infections per day in the U.S. to an all-time high of 40,000.
A number of the hardest-hit states, including Texas, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas, have Republican governors who have resisted mask-wearing requirements and largely echoed President Donald Trump’s desire to quickly reopen the economy.
The number of confirmed new infections in the U.S. per day soared past the previous high of 36,400, set on April 24, during one of the deadliest stretches in the crisis, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The average number of new cases per day has risen about 60 percent over the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis.
While the increase in reported cases is believed to reflect, in part, greatly expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence the virus is making a comeback, including rising deaths and hospitalizations in parts of the country and higher percentages of tests coming back positive for the virus.