During VP Debate, Pence Must Answer for Failed COVID-19 Response


TO: Interested Parties

FROM: DNC War Room

DATE: Wednesday, October 7, 2020

RE: During VP Debate, Pence Must Answer for Failed COVID-19 Response

The Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus has been a failure by every measure, and Mike Pence owns that record more than anyone but his boss in the Oval Office. As chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force since late February, Pence oversees the federal response to the pandemic. As President Trump put it when he announced Pence’s role, “I’m having everybody report to Mike … Mike will report to me.” Since then, 210,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, more than 7 million have been infected, more than 400,000 small businesses have closed, and millions of Americans have lost their jobs.

From the start of the pandemic, Pence and the Trump administration left states and health care workers without necessary protective equipment, failed to implement a national testing or contact tracing strategy, refused to follow the most basic health guidelines, and lied to the American public about the threat of the virus. Now, cases are surging across the country again, hospitalizations are rising, there is an outbreak in their own White House — and Pence and the administration still do not have a plan to protect their own workplace, much less the country.

During tonight’s vice presidential debate, Pence must answer for the administration’s failed COVID-19 response that he oversees as chair of the Coronavirus Task Force. Here are some of the key questions he needs to answer for the American public:

  1. As chair of the Task Force, do you agree with the president that Americans shouldn’t be afraid of COVID-19? What message does that send to the hundreds of thousands of American families who have lost a loved one to this virus?
  2. You’re in charge of the federal response to the coronavirus, and now there’s an outbreak at the White House that’s reached the highest levels of government. Shouldn’t responsible leadership start at home?
  3. Have you ever objected to Trump’s reckless gatherings, including the recent event in the Rose Garden with more than 150 mostly unmasked individuals who interacted indoors and outdoors for lengthy periods of time?
  4. Once it became clear that there was an outbreak among White House staff and associates of the president, why wasn’t contact tracing immediately implemented?
  5. Your own Coronavirus Task Force recommends mask wearing to help protect against the coronavirus. Should you have mandated masks at the White House before the current outbreak?
  6. As chair of the Task Force, have you ever suggested to Trump that masks should be mandated at his rallies or your own rallies?
  7. As chair of the Task Force, did you think it was wise for Trump to do a photo op while infected with COVID-19, which unnecessarily exposed Secret Service agents to the virus?
  8. Why did the White House press secretary speak to reporters without a mask after multiple people she had contact with tested positive for the coronavirus?
  9. Why did you write an op-ed back in June that declared victory on combating the coronavirus and claimed fears of a second wave were “overblown” when at the same time the White House was receiving increasingly dire warnings about “red zone” states that were facing skyrocketing cases and rising test positivity rates?
  10. Why did you encourage governors to repeat the lie that cases were only spiking in states because of an increase in testing?
  11. The GAO recently found that there is still a nationwide shortage of testing supplies. More than seven months into this crisis, why does the American public still not have reliable access to rapid testing?
  12. Last week, six states reached record highs for hospitalizations. This week, Dr. Fauci said that he was “disturbed” by the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States, which is averaging around 40,000 each day. How can you claim to be meeting this moment when cases are moving in the wrong direction?
  13. America leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases and reported deaths, and the damage to our economy is among the worst in the world. Other countries have gotten control of COVID-19 through a national plan, including mask wearing and strict protocols, and are on the road to recovery. Why has the U.S. never had a national plan?

No matter how Pence answers these questions, here are the facts about the administration’s failed COVID-19 response: 

  • Pence overstated the administration’s PPE program, and left states and health care workers without necessary protective equipment.
  • Pence echoed Trump’s false claim that coronavirus spikes are only the result of an increase in testing.
  • Experts agree far more tests are needed, with a recent report finding the U.S. needs nearly 200 million tests per month to control the pandemic.
  • For 28 consecutive weeks, more people have filed for unemployment benefits than during the single worst week of the Great Recession as layoffs continue to mount.
  • Trump and Pence let PPP funds meant for small businesses go to large corporations, Chinese firms, and companies owned by their donors and allies.
  • The U.S. has the most coronavirus cases and the most coronavirus deaths in the world.
  • Americans are about seven times more likely to die from coronavirus than citizens of other wealthy nations.