Pence talks coronavirus with Cuomo, Newsom, other governors

Pence talks coronavirus with Cuomo, Newsom, other governors
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence on Thursday spoke to Republican and Democratic governors across the country to update them on the White House's efforts to address the coronavirus.

Pence, who a day earlier was tapped to oversee the federal government's response to the disease, spoke with Govs. Larry Hogan (R-Md.), Greg Abbott (R-Texas), Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeHarris climate agenda stresses need for justice OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog report raises new questions for top Interior lawyer | Senate Democrats ask Trump to withdraw controversial public lands nominee | Border wall water use threatens endangered species, environmentalists say Why a rising star is leaving Congress MORE (D-Wash.) and Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia coronavirus case count tops 600,000 California slams 'inaccurate and outdated beliefs' of parents suing to reopen schools Bass on filling Harris's Senate spot: 'I'll keep all my options open' MORE (D-Calif.), according to an administration official.

The vice president's discussion with Newsom came after the governor said at a press conference that 33 people in California have tested positive for coronavirus, with officials monitoring more than 8,400 people for signs of the disease.

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Both Ricketts and Hogan tweeted about their calls with Pence, confirming they discussed updates on the virus.

Pence's discussions with state leaders reflect the administration's efforts to have a more organized response to the disease following days of contradictory statements from officials and bipartisan criticism of its preparedness to combat the virus.

The decision to tap Pence drew criticism from Democrats and some public health officials who pointed to Pence's spotty track record on health issues while he was governor of Indiana.

In an effort to address those criticisms, the vice president on Thursday tapped Deborah Birx to coordinate the White House coronavirus response.

Birx, who spent decades working as a physician and health expert for the military with a focus on HIV/AIDS, has served since 2014 as the U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy.

Pence on Thursday afternoon attended a meeting of the coronavirus task force and toured facilities at the Department of Health and Human Services.