REALITY CHECK: Pence Op-ed Gaslights America

Mike Pence wrote an op-ed today celebrating there being no coronavirus second wave as 21 states see increases in cases and 10 hit new highs for hospitalizations. Trump made this crisis worse by downplaying the virus and lying directly to the American people from the start, and his administration hasn’t stopped. Here’s the truth:

PENCE: “In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown.”

REALITY: In the past few days, ten states have hit new highs for coronavirus hospitalizations as cases continue to rise, undermining safe reopenings in many states.

Bloomberg: “Virus Cases Continue To Rise, Undermining States’ Reopening”

Washington Post: “Ten states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — hit new highs for hospitalized patients on Sunday, according to data maintained by The Washington Post.”

PENCE: “And in the past five days, deaths are down to fewer than 750 a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago—and a far cry from the 5,000 a day that some were predicting.”

REALITY: Just today, the model once used by the Trump administration projected as many as 200,000 deaths in the U.S. by October. 

CBS News: “Coronavirus Model Once Used By White House Now Predicts 200,000 U.S. Deaths By October”

PENCE: “The truth is that we’ve made great progress over the past four months, and it’s a testament to the leadership of President Trump.”

REALITY: The truth is that it didn’t have to be this bad. The ever-increasing cases and deaths and the Depression-era unemployment numbers are testament to Trump’s failed leadership. 

Vox: “In fact, there are many reasons the US death toll is so high, including a national response plagued by delays at the federal level, wishful thinking by president Trump, the sidelining of experts, a pointed White House campaign to place the blame for the Trump administration’s shortcomings on others, and time wasted chasing down false hopes based on poor science.”

Moody’s Analytics’ Mark Zandi: “The extraordinary loss of jobs in the U.S. and the high unemployment rate owe in significant part to the poor management of the pandemic by the federal government.”

Washington Post: “It did not have to happen this way… The failure has echoes of the period leading up to 9/11: Warnings were sounded, including at the highest levels of government, but the president was deaf to them until the enemy had already struck… That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered.”

PENCE: Trump “rallied the American people to embrace social-distancing guidelines. And the progress we’ve made is remarkable.”

REALITY: Trump has failed to lead by example, regularly ignoring public health guidelines. Experts now say that an uptick in cases can in part be traced to those who are similarly ignoring social distancing guidelines. 

Washington Post: “Throughout the pandemic, Trump has flouted and at times even made a mockery of public health guidelines. By returning to the campaign trail later this week — and by his and his team’s lax overall adherence to the recommendations of public health experts — Trump is signaling that he thinks the threat of the virus has largely passed.”

ABC News: “Hospitalizations for the novel coronavirus are on the rise in at least eight states, in what experts and officials said was in part an expected consequence of states reopening their economies, but also made worse by some people who have begun to disregard social distancing guidelines and aren’t appropriately wearing masks.”

PENCE: “At the end of February, between Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labs and state public health facilities, the U.S. had performed only about 8,000 coronavirus tests.”

REALITY: True story. The U.S. had woefully limited testing capacity as Trump himself downplayed the threat of the virus and his administration failed to ramp up capacity quickly and contain its spread. 

ABC News: “It was only three months ago when he said the coronavirus would ‘disappear.’ ‘You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,’ he said Feb. 26 at a coronavirus task force briefing. And when the first death in the U.S. was reported on Feb. 29 (though an April autopsy would reveal an earlier death in California on Feb. 6), the president held a campaign rally in South Carolina the night before, calling criticism of his response the Democratic Party’s ‘new hoax.’”

New York Times: “The C.D.C. also tightly restricted who could get tested and was slow to conduct ‘community-based surveillance,’ a standard screening practice to detect the virus’s reach. Had the United States been able to track its earliest movements and identify hidden hot spots, local quarantines might have confined the disease.”

New York Times: “The result was a lost month, when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread. Instead, Americans were left largely blind to the scale of a looming public health catastrophe.”

PENCE: “In March, there were genuine fears that hospitals in our hot spots would run out of personal protective equipment like N95 masks, gloves or, even worse, ventilators for patients battling respiratory failure.”

REALITY: Trump was slow to invoke the Defense Production Act, and to this day health providers throughout the U.S. still lack critical PPE. 

Associated Press: “As the first alarms sounded in early January that an outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China might ignite a global pandemic, the Trump administration squandered nearly two months that could have been used to bolster the federal stockpile of critically needed medical supplies and equipment.”

NBC News: “Nearly 100 days after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, health care workers across the country are still facing major shortages of personal protective equipment, or PPE, including crucial equipment such as masks, gowns, gloves and N95 respirators. Amid an alarming rise in coronavirus cases across the United States, the situation is especially dire at hospitals serving communities of color or patients on Medicaid, NBC News has found.”

Kaiser Health News: “As nursing homes remain the pandemic’s epicenter, the federal government is failing to ensure they have all the personal protective equipment, or PPE, needed to prevent the spread of the virus, according to interviews with administrators and federal data.”

PENCE: “We’ve also made great progress on developing therapeutics and a vaccine.”

REALITY: Trump pushed unproven therapeutics and promoted sunlight and injections of disinfectant to combat the virus. Meanwhile, his administration reportedly mishandled the first shipment of the therapeutic Remdesivir, delaying its delivery to patients in need.

Politico: “The Food and Drug Administration on Monday withdrew emergency use authorizations for two coronavirus treatments that President Donald Trump promoted despite concerns about their safety and effectiveness.”

CNN’s Abby Phillip: “Wow Trump just suggested  getting rid of coronavirus by bringing ‘light inside the body’ … ‘either through the skin or in some other way’ or using disinfectant: ‘is there a way you can do something like that by injection or some other way.’”

Washington Post: “The Trump administration mishandled the initial distribution of the only approved coronavirus medication, delaying treatment to some critically ill patients with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to nine current and former senior administration officials.  The first tranche of 607,000 vials of the antiviral medication remdesivir, donated to the government by drugmaker Gilead Sciences, was distributed in early May — in some cases to the wrong hospitals, to hospitals with no intensive care units and therefore no eligible patients, and to facilities without the needed refrigeration to store it, meaning some had to be returned to the government, said the officials familiar with the distribution effort.”

PENCE: “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 truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success… That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear mongering.”

REALITY: More than 116,000 deaths and counting are far from a “cause for celebration.”