DALLAS – Vice President Mike Pence met with Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday, pledging additional resources and testing in wake of what Abbott called “the very swift and very dangerous turn” of the coronavirus in Texas.
“President Trump wanted us to be here today with the developments over the last two weeks with the rising positivity and the rising number of cases with a very simple message and that is to use people of Texas: We’re with you,” Pence said.
Before Pence spoke after meeting with state officials, Abbott gave a somber assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.
“We need to understand that COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” he said.
Pence noted two weeks ago something changed but said he believed it was not the reopening but the behavior of people not wearing masks or social distancing.
Pence urged everyone to wear a face covering. He wore a mask as he came off Air Force 2, as did Abbott and other state officials who met the plane.
“Our administration is promoting the practice” of mask wearing, Pence said. He sidestepped a question about whether President Donald Trump should wear a mask.
Pence also said he and Abbott discussed the importance of leaning on local health officials’ guidance in Texas during the closed-door meeting.
“For anyone, if you can’t maintain social distancing … it’s just a good idea to wear a mask,” he said.
On Friday, federal officials had announced federal funding for testing sites that was to be cut off June 30 would be extended for 14 days, but on Sunday, Pence said, “We’ll be extending that every bit as long as Texas wants us to.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response task force coordinator, said Texas had a good reopening plan, then had the spike.
“It was a very serious and safe opening plan, and you can see the impact of the opening plan and how it worked out. All of May, for almost five weeks, and then there was an inflection point,” she said.
Birx thanked Abbott for closing bars in the state in his executive order Friday.
“I’m really appealing for every Texan to wear a mask,” she said.
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