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Pence designated to handle U.S. response to coronavirus

by Brianna Bush
Thu, Mar 26th 2020 03:00 pm
VP Mike Pence (middle) has been chosen by the Trump administration to head efforts against the coronavirus despite a troubling history on public health. President Trump (right) previously criticized Barack Obama for appointing inexperienced people to handle disease outbreaks.
VP Mike Pence (middle) has been chosen by the Trump administration to head efforts against the coronavirus despite a troubling history on public health. President Trump (right) previously criticized Barack Obama for appointing inexperienced people to handle disease outbreaks.

Over the last month, the number of coronavirus cases present in the U.S. has almost tripled and, in response, President Donald Trump believed his best option to handle the White House response was Vice President Mike Pence. Many Americans are left unhappy with this choice because of the way Pence handled the 2015 HIV outbreak in Indiana.

In 2011, Pence and other Congress members moved to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, leading to the only clinic with HIV-testing and a needle exchange program. This leads to a higher percentage of people to contract HIV and other diseases from used needles.

In light of the presidential race, these kinds of things are being looked at under a microscope. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders called Trump out.

What angered people the most was Pence’s response to the coronavirus. The Washington Post reported, as cases continued to be diagnosed, “Pence reportedly turned to prayer.” It was only after 75 people confirmed HIV-positive, Pence allowed there to be a 30-day needle exchange.

Yale epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves told The Post. Pence’s assignment overseeing coronavirus efforts “speaks to a lack of seriousness by the White House.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a statement Thursday, in which they said the U.S. government “must do more to address the spread of the deadly coronavirus in a smart, strategic and serious way.” 

These are not the only health crises that Pence has downplayed. In 2000, Vox reported in an op-ed piece, “despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” Despite everything, Pence still believes he looks forward to leading the coronavirus White House response. 

“As a former governor from the state where the first MERS case emerged in 2014,” he said according to The Post. “I know full well the importance of presidential leadership, the importance of administration leadership, and the vital role of partnerships of state and local governments, and health authorities in responding to potential threats and dangerous infectious diseases.”

The way Pence handles this will determine his political future and possibly the lives of Americans, according to TIME magazine. It is not just Pence who is at fault, Trump has downplayed the virus since its outbreak, constantly contradicting himself and medical advice.

On Fox News, Trump said thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of people get better from COVID-19 “just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work.” In reality, Trump holds some truth. The people who are contracting the virus and died, already had a pre-existing condition, and Trump’s head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, spoke up, saying a vaccine could be ready in a year to a year-and-a-half “at the earliest.”

So this leaves American’s questioning, what is going on, and what are the real dangers that people should be looking for? 

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