Mike Pence Says 'We're Past the Peak' of Coronavirus and Hopes Americans 'Will Be Able to Enjoy a Good Summer'

Vice President Mike Pence has expressed optimism that the worst of the coronavirus epidemic could be over by June and said that he hoped Americans "will be able to enjoy a good summer."

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Pence also did not appear to discourage states such as Georgia from opening up their economies early, despite not meeting the guidelines for control of the virus recommended by the White House task force team he leads.

While he did not specify a definite date for an end to the crisis, Pence has taken heart that "we continue to see current rates decline in the large metro areas where the epidemic's impacted the most," as he mentioned New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

"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," he told The Journal, a Gimlet and Wall Street Journal podcast. "We believe that because of what the people have done, because of what the people of those communities have done, we're past the peak.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, on April 22, 2020, in Washington, DC. He has told the Wall Street Journal he hopes the worst of the virus can be over by June. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

"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 out nation forward."

He said that he believed the amount of testing, key to the ability to reopen states, was already sufficient to let any state in the country reopen and that "we could double the amount of tests we are doing every day if we activated all of the laboratory capacity that we have around the country."

"We honestly believe that while we have enough testing today to let any state in the country enter Phase One," he said referring to White House guidelines released last week titled "Opening Up America Again."

"We really believe that we can double the amount of daily testing and be in a position where states could continue to move toward their reopening plans through the various phases," he added.

This week Georgia governor Brian Kemp faced criticism for announcing that from Friday, some businesses such as nail salons, hairdressers, and massage parlors could reopen. While not mentioning Georgia directly, Pence emphasized that the decision for a state or region to reopen was not a federal one.

"The timetable and the deployment of it will be the governors' decision but the president wanted to give us to give them our very best counsel on how we think states and communities can responsibly reopen their economies."

Amid predictions by some health experts of a second surge later this year, Pence said by spring his team expected to have new medicines known as therapeutics "which will bring a much needed relief to people that are struggling with the coronavirus."

"No one in America wants to reopen the American economy more than Donald Trump and we wanted to give governors and state health officials the tools to be able to make those decisions that they deem most appropriate," he said. Pence said it was the Administration's "hope that Americans will be able to enjoy a good summer, this has been a very challenging spring for American families... The American people are anxious to get back to normal life."

The infographic below, provided by Statista, shows the confirmed cases in the U.S. as of April 22.

Statista Graphic COVID-19 Cases U.S.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.