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Vice President Mike Pence predicts America will have 'coronavirus epidemic behind us' by Memorial Day


'We're past the peak'

Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence predicted Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic will "largely" be "behind us" in about a month.

During an interview on Geraldo Rivera's radio program, the vice president, who also leads the White House coronavirus task force, said current trends indicate the epidemic is pretty much past its peak.

In a clip from the interview made available by WTAM-AM, Rivera asked Pence, "Do you think I'll be on my boat and fishing in early June, Mr. Vice President?"

Pence replied, "I think, honestly, if you look at the trends today, I think by Memorial Day weekend we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us."

Continuing to share the White House's optimistic view, the vice president said, "And then state and local officials will begin to reopen activities. You're going to see states in the days ahead begin to do that."

However, Pence was sure to insist that the "key" to successfully reopening by Memorial Day is following President Donald Trump's recommended multiphase plan.

"The key for President Trump — for all of us — is we want to do it in a safe and responsible way," the vice president said. "We don't want a resurgence. And we think that the key to that is the phased approach the president outlined to the nation and to the governors last week."

The president released guidelines on April 16 for reopening the economy that, while delineating steps for beginning a return to normal, leaves the final call to the governors.

"You're going to call your own shots," Trump said.

'Past the peak'

Pence was sounding optimistic earlier this week, too. In fact, he said in an interview shared on the Wall Street Journal's "The Journal" podcast Wednesday that the task force is "seeing a light at the end of the tunnel" and that the country is "past the peak" of the virus.

The paper's Jerry Seib noted that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this week that he is "hoping to have much or all of the economy open this summer" and asked Pence, "Does that timeline seem realistic or possible to you at this point?"

The vice president sounded hopeful (emphasis added):

We remain very hopeful that if the current trajectory of the coronavirus epidemic continues that we could be in a much different place in early June than we are today.

It's always a heartbreak when you hear about the losses on the news every day, and you hear of more than 826,000 Americans who've contracted the coronavirus. And our hearts go out to all of those families.

But as I sit here today, having received our briefing even through this morning, we continue to see current rates of decline in the large metro areas where the epidemic's impacted the most — the New York Metro, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island.

We believe that because of what the American people have done, because of what the people of those communities have done, we're past the peak.

And also past the peak in Detroit and in New Orleans — New Orleans could well be the most stable of all the large metro outbreaks in the country thus far — Denver and Seattle. ...

The trend lines continue to be encouraging, and we truly do believe, as we move forward with responsibly beginning to reopen the economy in state after state around the country, that by early June we could be at a place where this coronavirus epidemic is largely in the past and then we can begin to move our nation forward.

(H/T: International Business Times)

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