Vice President Mike Pence defended the Trump administration’s suspending travel from Europe for 30 days and predicted that there will be thousands more cases in the US.
Pence, who is spearheading the White House coronavirus task force, noted that President Trump banned travel from China shortly after the virus broke out in Wuhan and also released travel advisories for South Korea and Italy after outbreaks in those countries.
“The reality is the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic has moved from China and South Korea to Europe,” the vice president said Thursday on “Fox & Friends.”
“Our task force has been tracking that. We brought that information to the president in real-time and yesterday he made the decision in the Oval Office to suspend all travel from Europe for the next 30 days,” he continued.
Trump announced the suspension of travel from Europe, excluding Great Britain, during a Wednesday evening address to the nation.
Pence said every American returning from Europe will undergo screening at 13 separate airports and will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“It’s part of the president’s strategy. We want to prevent the coronavirus from being brought into the country and then continue to focus on those communities where we have community spread even as we encourage best practices and common sense from every American,” he said.
Pence said health experts said of the 35 states with coronavirus outbreaks, 30 of them can trace the contact to someone in Europe.
Pence also warned that the coronavirus was more dangerous than the flu.
“It’s two or three times more contagious than a respiratory illness,” he said. “And so we’ll have thousands of more cases across this country. But your viewers deserve to know that most Americans – the vast majority of Americans who contract the virus – will have flu-like symptoms and will fully recover.”
He encouraged best practices and the need for good hygiene – especially for older Americans who are most vulnerable to the virus.
“The risk to the average American of contracting the coronavirus remains low. But we do know that seniors with serious underlying chronic health conditions are particularly vulnerable to very serious outcomes,” he said.
As whether there are enough testing kits, Pence said the government is working to “clear out any red tape” to make them more available.
“Right now every state lab in America can conduct testing. Anyone of the viewers that may have a concern can call their doctor and their doctor can contact a state lab to determine how to get a test processed,” he said, adding that university hospitals across the country are also conducting tests.
There are more than 1,200 coronavirus cases in the US and 29 deaths attributed to the virus.
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