Vice President Mike Pence encouraged governors to downplay coronavirus outbreaks and spread misleading facts during a private phone call on Monday.
According to The Associated Press, the VP, who also leads the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, told governors to proceed with “proper gentleness and respect,” and to share the “progress that we are making” rather than give actual numbers of infections.
Pence even downplayed the increase in COVID-19 cases in certain areas, calling them “intermittent” spikes and said that high infection rates are due to an increase in testing, not because more people are contracting the virus.
“I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing,” Pence said on the call, according to The New York Times. “And that in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that’s more resolved by the extraordinary work you’re doing.”
In reality, at least 22 states have seen spikes in infection over the last two weeks as many states begin reopening. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Governors of Oregon and Utah are tightening up on social distancing measures after a surge in new cases, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that he is ready to reverse some reopening measures if people get too careless and numbers start to rise.
Pence told the governors on the call to focus on the positive at this time.
“Encourage people with the news that we are safely reopening the country,” Pence said. “That, as we speak today because people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery and getting ordinary care, hospitalization rates may be going up. But according to our most current information, hospitalizations for coronavirus are going down across the country.”