Pence: Panic over second coronavirus wave 'overblown'

Vice President Pence on Tuesday blamed the media for stoking concerns of a "second wave" of coronavirus in the United States, insisting in an op-ed that the Trump administration's response has been successful even as infections are climbing in several states.

The vice president, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that panic over a rebound in coronavirus cases is "overblown" while touting the administration's handling of the pandemic.

"Thanks to the leadership of President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy," Pence wrote.

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Experts have disputed that the country is facing a second wave, instead expressing concern that the country never fully got past the first wave of infections. There have been more than 2.1 million cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data, and more than 116,000 people in the country have died from the virus.

Pence used the op-ed to highlight expanded testing and personal protective equipment supplies, two areas where the administration struggled early on in the pandemic.

He cited the decline in daily virus deaths and the leveling-off of daily new infections at 20,000 as positive signs that the U.S. was making progress against the virus, arguing the majority of states have seen cases decline or remain stable.

The vice president blamed the media for offering a narrative counter to the administration's.

"The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success," he wrote. "We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future. That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear mongering."

"In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a 'second wave' of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown," he added.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a report published this week noted that while average daily reported cases and deaths are declining there are still signs of ongoing community transmission across the country. That's because the center of the outbreak has moved from New York to other states that have recently lifted stay-at-home orders and restrictions on businesses.

Former CDC Director Tom Frieden, who served during the Obama administration, said in a blog post Tuesday that the percentage of tests coming back positive is increasing in the U.S., indicating the spread of COVID-19 has been increasing for at least a week.

Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina and Alaska are all seeing large numbers of cases and growing percentages of tests coming back positive. Hospitalizations from the virus in Texas have climbed roughly 8 percent in the past two weeks. 

"This is not the kind of trend you want to see," Frieden wrote. "This is NOT from more testing, it's from more spread."

The White House has largely put the coronavirus on the back-burner publicly, focusing instead on rejuvenating the economy and other more recent issues such as police reform.

The coronavirus task force has not held a press briefing in nearly two months, the group meets only a couple of times a week after doing so daily throughout April, and top infectious diseases expert Anthony FauciAnthony Fauci'Highest priority' is to vaccinate the unvaccinated, Fauci says Sunday shows - Boosters in the spotlight Fauci: Data for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson booster shots 'a few weeks' out MORE has not met with Trump in roughly two weeks.

Jessie Hellmann contributed.