Updated: Jun 30, 2020
If you listen to the news, you will hear two different narratives about the pandemic. One side has the number of cases at an all time high. The other side would have you believe all is well. Usually, when two sides disagree this much, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Except for now.
The number of coronavirus cases are soaring and states are pausing their reopening. Instead of acknowledging this, the administration is pointing to increased testing as the reason for the increases in cases. This is the side being touted by Mike Pence as he continues to push the false commentary being spread by Donald Trump, who is claiming the coronavirus is “largely through."
On the other are the experts, led by Dr.Anthony Fauci, who are urging caution, especially among young people as states are seeing a spike in cases -- particularly in those states that reopened earliest and did not follow CDC guidelines. Fauci blames the spike in cases on reopening too soon, not following CDC guidelines, and not following social distancing rules as crowds flocked to beaches and bars.
Cases are increasing nationwide with no end in sight, yet Trump continues to campaign, even in those places with spikes in the number of cases. In Tulsa, campaign staffers were seen removing social distancing stickers to create the appearance of a larger, more tightly packed crowd. In Arizona, where the church pastors claimed to have a “coronavirus killing air filter," there was nary a mask to be found amongst the MAGA hat wearing throng.
Pence defended the lack of masks by saying participants were exercising their Freedom of Speech. CNN’s Don Lemon mocked Pence’s comments using the “can you hear me now?” approach to demonstrate that masks do not impede speech.
Despite his denials, Pence cancelled plans to travel to Arizona and Florida “out of an abundance of caution." This is a direct contradiction to the “all is well” approach he and Trump are pushing, but far from an acknowledgement that we are indeed still in a healthcare crisis.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci has been kept out of the spotlight, even as cases grow. Yet, in the first coronavirus briefing in weeks, Fauci stood wearing a mask while Pence did not. And their comments could not have been further apart, with Dr. Fauci encouraging social distancing and masks, while Pence claimed it was about “freedom of expression”.
Update: In a stunning reversal, Pence attended a church service in Dallas, Texas and encouraged others to do so, as a hundred strong choir remained unmasked. On Sunday morning news shows, he acknowledged that people should wear masks.