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Pence says White House has not discussed national lockdown to combat coronavirus

Pence says White House has not discussed national lockdown to combat coronavirus
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Vice President Pence on Tuesday said the White House has not discussed instituting a national lockdown to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"At no point has the White House coronavirus task force discussed what some people call a nationwide lockdown," Pence, who is leading the federal government's response to the outbreak, said during a Fox News virtual town hall.

Pence pointed to White House guidelines that call for Americans to avoid restaurants and bars, work from home and limit gatherings to fewer than 10 people.

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He expressed support for the governors of Illinois, California, New York and other states that have instituted stricter measures, such as shelter-in-place orders, to more aggressively combat the pandemic.

"President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE and I fully support the decisions by your state and local officials that may be stronger than this," Pence said, holding up a printout of the White House guidelines.

Speculation has swirled on social media and elsewhere about the specter of the federal government instructing residents nationwide to stay in their homes. Government officials have repeatedly dismissed such comments as misinformation, with Pence's response the clearest indication yet that such a drastic action is not under consideration.

President Trump on Monday began discussing a potential timeline for reopening parts of the economy even as governors in densely populated states are just beginning to implement tougher steps. The president told reporters he was hoping certain, less-affected areas could begin getting back to work in a matter of weeks.

"This was a medical problem," he said. "We are not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem."

There were more than 46,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday afternoon, and more than 500 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University data.