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Pence warns of more virus cases in US, but stresses risk 'remains low'

Pence warns of more virus cases in US, but stresses risk 'remains low'
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Vice President Pence said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that “there’s no question” there will be more cases of coronavirus in the U.S., but insisted the risk to Americans “remains low.”

Pence said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that his assessment was based on “the confidence of all of our health experts who are widely regarded as the best in the world.”

He also stressed that the "vast majority" of the Americans who contract the virus "will be treated [and] they will recover.”

Host Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddFauci fatigue sets in as top doc sows doubt in vaccine effectiveness Blinken warns it would be a 'serious mistake' for Taiwan's status to be changed 'by force' Blinken: China 'didn't do what it needed to do' in early stages of pandemic MORE, however, said that the fact that one person out of every 22 people to contract the disease worldwide has died is "not reassuring." 

Pence responded by saying “we’d be in a very different place” if President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE did not suspend travel from China and establish a quarantine process for returning Americans.

“The president has made it clear that this is a whole-of-government approach," he said.

“We're going to bring the best scientific minds, experts together, and we're going to, we’re going to work every day to, to contain this disease, to treat those that are contracted," he added. "And I'm very confident we're ready, and I know, and I know that we’ll get through this.”

Pence also said officials are working to find out how the first person in the U.S. to die from coronavirus -- an unidentified Washington state man in his 50s who reportedly had an underlying health condition -- contracted the disease.

"The process, Chuck, is that state and local officials are in the lead, but in instances involving the coronavirus or any infectious disease, we have [Centers for Disease Control] on the ground immediately to assist and support. And they're working to identify it."

Pence also suggested the administration would defer to local governments on decisions such as school closures.

"Those are decisions that governors in consultation with local health officials will make as they deem that necessary," Pence told Todd. "But other than in areas where there are individuals that have been infected with the coronavirus, people need to understand that for the average American, the risk does remain low. We're ready."

"I think the president would respect any decisions that are made at the state and local level but again, I think it’s important that people follow the facts," he added.

Health officials have announced four cases of unknown origin on the west coast. Experts have expressed concerns that lack of testing infrastructure could be allowing the virus to spread undetected.

--This report was updated at 8:57 a.m.