Vice President Pence Updates Us on the Coronavirus Response

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RUSH: We are very honored, very thrilled to have with us the vice president of the United States, carving out some time for us during what must be the most incredible schedule. Vice President Pence, welcome to the program. Great to have you back with us today.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rush. Good to be back.

RUSH: You bet. You know, people have asked me over the course of my many years, “Are you ever gonna run for office?” And I’ve always said, “No, no, no, no desire,” because I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes right now. You run for office because you want the leadership responsibility. You’ve been governor, you’ve been a member of Congress. Now you’re vice president. You’re running the task force. And this has become your life. How are you holding up? What’s the progress? I’m detecting from the briefings every day there’s now a shift toward the reopening of the economy as an objective rather than just a daily update on the medical aspects, characteristics.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Rush, thanks for the words of encouragement and support. And I know we enjoy the prayers of millions of your listeners around the country and the president and I are grateful every day. But I have to tell you, every day I go to work with this team that the president assembled at the White House Coronavirus Task Force, every day that I hear about the way that our health care workers have stepped up to provide the level of care that every one of us would want for a member of our family, every day I hear about the efforts of hardworking Americans, businesses that have stepped up in this whole of America approach, and every day I see the progress we’re making because of the cooperation of the American people, I’m inspired.

It really has been extraordinary. We are making progress. We’re continuing to see all the way through this morning that on the West Coast in Washington State and California, cases remain low and steady. And because of those health care workers, because of the way the American people have responded to the federal guidelines to state and local officials, we continue to see evidence that the New York metro is past its peak. Hospitalizations continue to decline.

Areas like New Orleans and Detroit, Denver, and elsewhere are all making measurable progress. We’re getting there, Rush, because early on the president made it clear that we’re all in this together. It would take all of us to do it. The president’s coronavirus guidelines for America were taken to heart by tens of millions of Americans. And we are slowing the spread. And every day we’re one day closer to putting this coronavirus in the past and putting America back to work.

RUSH: I don’t want to speak for you. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I know you, and it’s gotta rip your heart out, sir, 26 million people now in two months filing for unemployment compensation, and many of these people are getting impatient. They’re protesting in certain states ’cause their attitude, “Hey, my state’s not New York. It’s not the New York metro area. Why can’t I go back to work?” And these people protesting are being ripped to shreds by the media doing their best to mischaracterize what their objectives are. What do you make of the protests, and, if we’re getting closer, what’s the demarcation point where you can see that we can make an official shift to reopening from the flattening the curve policies?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to promise you and every one of your listeners who shares that view that there’s no one in America that wants to reopen this country more than President Donald Trump. And that was the reason why one week ago today the president directed the White House Coronavirus Task Force to lay out guidelines for opening up America again. And it’s all reflective of the president’s sense, all of our sense, that America works when America is working.

The American people who are coming out, who are giving voice, who are expressing that sentiment to their governors we believe play an important role in moving our nation, moving our nation forward. But the most important thing from our perspective — and the president reflected on this yesterday — is that we think that there is a framework for safely and responsibly opening up our states. And I just recommend all of your listeners, look at the president’s guidelines for opening up America again.

It’s a three-phased approach that says once we have 14 consecutive days of declining cases and the states make sure that their hospital systems have the capacity for whatever may come, then they can begin to ease those social distancing rules to begin to reopen their economies. And then, as they make successive progress, that we can do that. We think that’s the responsible and safe way to move forward.

But I have to tell you, seeing protests around the country, seeing people stepping forward, I share their passion. I know the president shares their passion for reopening America, getting America working again. But we want to do it in a way that ensures that we won’t have a resurgence of the coronavirus and that, once we open America again, that we’ll keep America open. That’s what we’re working toward every single day.

RUSH: Yeah, you don’t want to have to —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I just have to tell you —

RUSH: You don’t want to have to shut it down again after it reopens.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. And that was the phased approach in the president’s guidelines for opening up America again is that we honestly believe that, you know, the old adage that you walk before you run. And I think most Americans understand this. And I think most of the people that are stepping forward and saying that they want to get on with it and they want to open their states up, understand that as well. You know, we certainly understand that the fundamental liberties in the Constitution don’t disappear during a public health emergency. We respect the freedom of speech of every American. And, as the president said, here’s our guidelines to the governors.

But I am confident the governors around America are gonna be listening to their citizens and hearing that desire for people to be back at work. And that will play an important part of informing state decisions by governors, by state and local authorities. And it’s important to remember, too, the guidelines the president outlined are recommendations for how governors around America could open up again on a statewide level, but also they could be implemented on a county-by-county level.

I mean, Rush, there are counties across America, nearly 25% of counties across America who have very, very little incident of the coronavirus at all. And so we’re giving this guidance to governors. We’ll have another conference call tomorrow with all the nation’s governors to begin to lay out how we’re scaling testing all across the country, surging medical supplies. But we really do believe the guidelines for opening up America again provide a framework for putting the coronavirus in the past as quickly as possible and opening the economy up.

RUSH: As conservatives, we’ve always been told that the states are great laboratories, that we’re not a country, as diverse as we are, we’re not maybe always a one-size-fits-all policy-wise. So, I like that. Counties can try it, see what happens. Is a perfect opportunity for me to bring up Governor Kemp. Now, Governor Kemp is a Republican governor of Georgia. He has decided to open up nail salons and barbershops and bowling alleys soon, restaurants next week.

And everybody is reacting like this is the absolute worst thing he could do, it’s a big, big, big mistake. But he’s saying he’s got his own data. He’s got his data in Florida. He’s got his statics, he’s got his health experts that are telling him it’s gonna be fine and he’s saying his constituents are getting impatient. They want to go back to work and save their livelihoods. Yesterday the president said I wish he wouldn’t do it, but I’m not gonna tell him not to. Dr. Fauci, same thing. What kind of challenge does this give you as you’re trying to marshal your policy across the country, what do you expect to happen in Georgia that you wish wouldn’t happen?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the president was very clear yesterday that he thought there were aspects of Georgia’s plan that, to him, seemed too soon. But to your point, I mean, the president has created a framework here where we want governors to make those decisions on a state-by-state level. The one thing — you know this president well, Rush. I mean, you’ll always know where President Trump stands. And our health experts weighed in on that yesterday, as well.

But our conviction is that by laying out the guidelines for opening up America again, we’ve given every governor in every state and territory in the county what we believe is the best counsel for how to safely and responsibly reopen. We’ll continue to share that guidance and that counsel, but ultimately it will be up to those states, up to their health advisers and up to the people of their state to determine the best course forward.

RUSH: Okay. Now, I know time is dwindling. Let me ask you a couple things about testing and antibodies.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.

RUSH: Democrats, who (chuckles) I just get the sense are very happy with this shutdown because they think it’s gonna improve their electoral chances in November… I’m not asking you to confirm that. I didn’t throw that out. Just… I’m very cynical about them, sir. But they are out there claiming that we need to have massive testing before we can reopen the country. You guys have done pretty good on ramping up testing. We have… The point is, how good is a test anyway? You test me today; I’m negative. But, what if I catch it next week? Is testing…? What is the benefit of having this massive testing the Democrats are talking about?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first, thanks for acknowledging what this president did with regard to testing in America. I mean, it is remarkable to think that one month ago our nation had tested 80,000 people for the coronavirus. And, as we sit here today, we are rapidly approaching having tested five million people in our nation.

RUSH: Yeah, that’s incredible. That’s incredible.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The only reason it happen is because President Trump early on in this process brought in all of the top commercial laboratories in the country and basically created an alliance between them to scale up testing at a level that had never been seen in the history of this country.

And one of the things that we’ve been working with governors on is to literally activate all of the testing resources that they have. But, let me say, your point is so well taken, Rush, about testing is important. But there’s so much rhetoric about testing that — again — I would point people back to the guidelines for opening up America again.

We contemplate the role of what testing would be in Phase One: We want to have enough testing to test everybody that has symptoms. Right? We want to test anybody they’ve been in contact with. And number three, we want to have tests deployed to our nursing homes, long-term health care facilities.

To our vulnerable populations, particularly inner-city minority populations so that we can watch for any emergence of the coronavirus and deal with it forcefully. What I want to tell your millions of listeners: We have enough testing today for every state in America to go to Phase One. Thanks to the president’s leadership.

RUSH: That is incredible.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: We have enough testing… It is…Well, it’s a testament to American ingenuity, to American free enterprise, to these extraordinary commercial labs and to the president’s leadership. But we have enough testing today for every state in America to be able to test sufficiently to move into Phase One, and we’re continuing to scale testing.

We have new tests that are gonna be coming online in the next several weeks that will literally add enormous volume to our testing capability. But testing is not a barrier to any state in America beginning to reopen and all of your listeners around the country should know that.

And, as they let their voice be heard either with an email to their governor’s office or a letter to the editor or participating in their First Amendment rights, we have enough testing today for every state in America to go to Phase One.

Now, they go to Phase One if they’ve got 14 days of consecutive declines in cases. They’re on a trajectory with that and with hospital capacity to be able to deal with whatever may come. But the American people should know that testing is not a barrier today to entering Phase One in opening up America again.

RUSH: We are speaking with Vice President Pence. What is the reaction of the task force at large? It’s made up of many, many people. You have your health experts, Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci. What is the reaction when you see the Stanford study of Santa Clara County showing that the number of cases may actually be greater by a factor of 50 times?

Meaning there may be many more people infected than we know, which would bring the death rate, the mortality rate way, way down. USC did a similar study of LA County with again the same numbers. We think there may be 50 times the reported number of people infected out there again lowering the mortality rate to like the flu, 0.1%. What’s the task force reaction when you see that that news is being reported across the country?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, and I saw this morning at least it was reported that Governor Cuomo said that some of their antibody testing was showing very significant amount of people who had had the coronavirus and were not aware of it, what they call asymptomatic. What I would tell you is it’s something that we have been watching for and frankly anticipating for some time.

Our health experts have been very clear from early on. The fact that the coronavirus is three times more contagious than the flu, and the fact that, as we have done testing, we have been able to see trends that suggest that many people that have the coronavirus will have either just flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all.

I will tell you that our team will not be surprised to see evidence in the days ahead, particularly as these antibody tests continue to scale across America, that a large number of Americans have been exposed, contracted it, and ultimately developed the antibodies in their system to defeat it —

RUSH: Right.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: — either with mild flu symptoms or no symptoms at all.

RUSH: No symptoms at all.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The good news — the good news of all of that, Rush, is that we don’t… This is a new virus, right? So we don’t have hard data. The scientists always make that clear to us. But there is the highest likelihood that, if you’ve had this coronavirus in the past that you will enjoy some immunity from it in the future.

And it’s among the reasons why our nation, should the coronavirus reemerge at any time in the future — why our nation — will be in a much better place. We’ll have new medicines called therapeutics. We’re working around the clock on vaccines. We’re deploying testing to make sure and identify quickly contact, trace, and isolate people that have it.

But make no mistake about it: If some of those early studies hold out, there will be an awful lot of Americans in the fall and in the winter of next year that actually enjoy a degree of immunity from the coronavirus. And that will be — and that will also be a bulwark against this as well.

So, I just… I have to tell you, though, as we think about the future, I want your listeners to know that everything that we’re looking at every single day is a tribute to what they have done. And we urge them to continue to do it. We urge them to continue to practice that social distancing, to continue to, you know, use the drive-thru at your local restaurant.

Avoid gatherings of more than 10, listen to your state and local authorities. Because, as we track this data state by state, county by county, we’re getting there, Rush. And I truly do believe… I truly do believe, if current trend lines hold, that by early June we could largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us and begin to see our nation open back up and go back to work.

RUSH: Mr. Vice President, thank you very much. I really, really appreciate you squeezing us into your schedule today. We’re truly honored that you would make time for us. We are praying for you, and we wish the best for you.

We hope that you and the other members of the task force prevail in your efforts here. Everybody would benefit from that. But thank you more than anything for actually assuming the responsibility and shepherding this thing because it can’t be easy. It’s gotta be one of the most challenging things in your life, I would think.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, standing alongside a president who’s made the kind of decisions President Trump has made to always put the health and well-being of America first in this cause, is one of the greatest privileges of my life. And I want to thank you and I want to thank your millions of listeners for the prayers that they have prayed for all of us that are working at every level.

I ask them to remember the families of the lost, those that are struggling with the disease, and especially these incredible health care workers who have been out there on the front lines every day all the way through today. They all deserve our prayers, and I know they’re getting them. And we’re grateful.

RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rush.

RUSH: Vice President Mike Pence.

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