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Berman to Pence: How can you not know about QAnon?
02:13 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Vice President Mike Pence praised the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and appeared to admit he was wrong when he suggested there “isn’t a coronavirus second wave” in June, saying that “things changed” as the pandemic spread.

“At that time as you well remember we were seeing cases declining from the dramatic rise in cases and the loss of nearly 2,500 Americans a day at the height of this pandemic. And most of our scientists believed that we were well on our way toward lowering cases, and that perhaps the coronavirus, like the flu, would be seasonal and that we would have a summer respite. But sometime around Memorial Day, things changed,” he said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day.”

On June 16, Pence claimed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that there “isn’t a coronavirus second wave,” criticizing the media, and calling such panic “overblown.” His words came amid the President’s push to declare the pandemic over, reopen the economy, and return to the campaign trail. But since then, cases increased across the Sun Belt states and the Midwest, and more than 53,000 Americans have died and more than 3 million have been infected.

Asked point blank by CNN’s John Berman whether he was wrong in that op-ed, Pence said, “Well CNN was wrong a lot earlier in the year, as well, John. We’ve all been learning all along the way about this coronavirus,” going on to tout the President’s leadership and developments in testing, personal protective equipment, and therapeutics and vaccines.

“This is a response the American people can be proud of,” he added.

More than 5.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus and more than 174,000 people have died.

During the at-times contentious interview, Pence aggressively filibustered, largely avoiding directly answering questions and frequently pivoting to criticize Democrats on a panoply of issues.

He predicted a “miracle around the corner” regarding a potential vaccine, touting the administration’s accelerated development push.

“I got a newsflash for Joe Biden, John, and that is, we think there is a miracle around the corner because the President called on pharmaceutical companies – we believe it’s very likely that we’ll have one or more vaccines for the coronavirus before the end of this year. All of that’s attributed to President Trump’s leadership,” he said.

Pence declined to answer a direct question on the administration’s predicted death toll.

“We continue to work every day to save lives. Our focus will remain there,” he said.

Pressed again, Pence said, “We mourn with those who mourn. There’s never been a day gone by we haven’t thought about families who lost loved ones in the midst of this pandemic,” going on to praise Trump’s decision to halt travel from China and misleadingly criticizing Democratic nominee for calling the move “xenophobic.”

In a speech to supporters the same day Trump announced China travel restrictions, Biden did not specifically note the restrictions, but called out the President’s “record of hysteria and xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, and fear mongering.” Trump has repeatedly said that decision saved American lives, though many cases in the US came from Europe.

Amid the administration’s push to reopen schools, Pence confirmed that the administration will be designating teachers as essential employees. That doesn’t mean teachers will be forced to work if they are exposed to the virus, he said, but the guidance “prioritizes supplies and PPE and testing” for teachers.

And asked what went wrong at the University of Notre Dame in his native Indiana, which moved back to remote learning after a spike in cases, and how other educational institutions could learn from it, Pence said, “I think Father Jenkins (Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins) said that people were congregating off-campus, and so they wanted to take a pause in in-classroom learning to make sure that they have that under control. We respect that but the priority has to be, we gotta get our kids back to school,” citing academic reasons as well as other vital support services schools provide, including nutrition.