Update (1300ET): VP Pence stepped up to the podium Friday to congratulate the American people on the progress made so far in combating the coronavirus pandemic, while promising to update them on what was going on with this spike in cases, and what the administration plans to do about it.
The VP explained that while the age of the average person infected virus has dropped, COVID-19 can still be deadly in young people, and he urged young people against growing "complacent."
Though the word "mask" was assiduously avoided in favor of the seemingly-less-politicized "personal protective equipment", Pence and Dr. Birx explained how the increase in new cases and hospitalizations is alarming, and will require Americans to continue to cooperate with federal and local restrictions.
The VP will travel to Texas, Arizona and Florida over the next week as each state struggles to contain spikes in coronavirus cases, where he will be joined by Dr. Birx in Texas on Sunday and in Arizona on Tuesday. But Pence will travel solo to Florida and meet with Gov DeSantis about the escalating situation in Florida.
Pence assured the public the problem was mostly young people in 16 states disregarding the best practices recommended by federal and local officials, and he declared that deaths, having not rebounded, were still below the White House's worst-case projections (though we're not out of the woods yet).
"A measure of stability" in 34 states, according to @VP.— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
"There are 16 states with rising cases and rising percentages and we'll be focusing on those states today," adds @VP.— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
"It's almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases," says @VP.— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
In Florida, Texas and elsewhere, "roughly half of the new cases are Americans under the age of 25," according to @VP.— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
"We are making progress reducing the number of Americans we have lost and are losing," says @VP, explaining that the country is not where it was 2 months ago when there were "great losses and great hardship."— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
"The truth is we did slow the spread. We flattened the curve," according to @VP.— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
Testing rates improving in the under-40 age group which is most likely to have asymptomatic spread, says Dr. Birx.— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
"Use your grandchildren to go and do your shopping," says Dr. Birx.— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
"When you have an outbreak of an infectious disease it's a dynamic process that's global," explains Dr. Anthony Fauci. "We can't get away from that" in an interconnected society. pic.twitter.com/9YfAs761jo— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
Overwhelming majority getting infected now are young people, says Dr. Fauci. "The reproduction element of the virus is not less than one...ultimately you will infect somebody that's vulnerable."— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 26, 2020
Alex Azar warned that the US has approved Dexamethasone as an approved coronavirus treatment after a study hailed as highly credible showed the steroid was effective at alleviating moderate and severe COVID-19 symptoms.
As the press briefing ended, Dr. Fauci and the rest of the team walked away as reporters shouted at the doctor, asking him to comment on the Trump Campaign's rallies, which have been criticized as unsafe and irresponsible during the outbreak. But Pence repeatedly justified the events as giving the public "the choice" to participate in their political civic tradition.
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In the task force's first public briefing since suspending its daily acrimonious press briefings, VP Pence is leading a team that, without President Trump (though he did just cancel a weekend trip to NJ) is expected to discuss the recent upsurge in cases, and a new potential strategy leaked to the press called "pool testing". We have more on that here.
Watch live below: