Biden: Pence trip to Dallas ‘epitomizes the dismissive attitude’ administration has taken toward coronavirus pandemic

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign on Sunday denounced Vice President Pence for his scheduled trip to Dallas, saying it “epitomizes the dismissive attitude” the Trump administration has taken toward addressing the coronavirus outbreak. 

Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, is set to visit Texas on Sunday to receive an on-the-ground report from officials about the surge in coronavirus cases throughout the state. He is also scheduled to speak at an event at First Baptist Dallas, a church led by Pastor Robert Jeffress, during the visit.

“Our leaders should be tackling this pandemic head on and laying out concrete recovery plans for the American people — not jet setting across the country to hold events that go against basic public health guidance,” Biden campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement. “Families in the Lone Star state and across the country deserve better.”  

Pence’s trip comes just days after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) paused the state’s reopening and ordered bars to close in response to escalating coronavirus cases and hospitalizations stemming from COVID-19. 

Bedingfield said that the outbreak in Texas and other parts of the U.S. exemplified the Trump administration’s “failure to get Americans — including Texas — the testing they need or offer an effective reopening plan based in public health and science has now exacerbated the pandemic in communities across the country.”

“The agonizing reality in Texas right now is that COVID-19 cases are on the rise and hospitals are nearing ICU capacity,” Bedingfield said. 

Pence on Friday briefed reporters about the U.S. response to the crisis for the first time in weeks. The briefing came the same day the U.S. reported more than 40,000 cases of the virus in a single day for the first time in more than a month.

Pence acknowledged that there are 16 states with rising cases and rising percentages of total tests that are positive. But he noted that daily deaths from the virus continued to fall and argued that the U.S. was in a better position than it was a few months ago. Health experts have warned that deaths are a lagging indicator and that they could increase over time.

The event at which Pence is scheduled to speak on Sunday is billed as “Celebrate Freedom Sunday” on the First Baptist Dallas website. The church said masks and social distancing are “strongly encouraged” for those attending the event. 

Anyone who enters the church’s Worship Center will receive a temperature screening, the church said. The church did not indicate if seating would be limited.

As of Sunday, Texas health authorities had reported more than 143,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and about 2,300 deaths caused by it. Before pausing the state’s reopening, Abbott implored residents to stay home, saying that “because the spread is so rampant right now, there’s never a reason for you to have to leave your home.”

Pence’s office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.  

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Joe Biden

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