Pence postpones Florida, Arizona events amid increase in coronavirus cases there

As Covid-19 cases surge, Pence touts progress made from earlier peaks

The Coronavirus Task Force Reemerges After 2 Months, With Bad News and No President in Sight

Speaking at the White House on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence pushed back on whether the record-high numbers in states like Texas and Arizona are due to reopening state economies too soon, even as states pull back their reopening plans.

Other task force members were more somber in their remarks.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci told the Washington Post on Friday that experts are seriously considering "pool testing" patients, which would test groups of people at once, rather that a single test for each individual.

Pence said that while the USA has made progress, the country "still has work to do".

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Pence's decision comes just hours after Florida reported a record new high in daily coronavirus cases - marking it the third time this week a new record was broken. He noted that federal officials have been assisting state and local health agencies and said that no American who needed a ventilator went without one.

"As we stand here today, all 50 states and the territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly, but with cases rising, particularly over the past week throughout the South, President Trump directed our task force to brief the American people" on several issues relating to the outbreak, Pence said. President Donald Trump has maintained that the increase in cases is the result of increased testing capacity, but the CDC reports hospitalizations linked to the virus are also on the rise. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the launch of the electric Endurance pickup truck at Lordstown Motors Corporation, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Lordstown, Ohio. We saved lives, ' Pence told reporters at a task force briefing Friday - now held for the first time at the Department of Health and Human Services. The average number of new cases per day has risen about 60 percent over the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis. And about half of the new cases now being reported are in Americans under the age of 35, which is "encouraging", Pence said, given that younger Americans are less susceptible to serious outcomes. "We still have work to do".

"A risk for you is not just isolated to you", Fauci said.

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"We've got to realize that we are part of the process", he continued.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a halt to elective surgeries in the hardest-hit counties over concern for hospital bed space and asked all Texans to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly and stay apart from others.

But when Pence got to the point of why the task force was suddenly reappearing before America after two full months, it wasn't with good news.

'I want to remind you again that the freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, ' Pence said.

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