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Coronavirus: Elizabeth Warren calls Mike Pence’s denial of a second wave ‘reckless’ and ‘pathetic’

Massachusetts senator has previously pointed to vice president’s record handling of HIV outbreak in Indiana

Andrew Naughtie
Wednesday 17 June 2020 11:07 BST
Elizabeth Warren says Mike Pence is 'the wrong person' to lead coronavirus response

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has laid into vice president Mike Pence over an op-ed he wrote for The Wall Street Journal, titled “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave’”.

In his resolutely optimistic essay, Mr Pence points to the expansion of testing across the US, the low positive rate among those being tested, and the increased distribution of medical and protective equipment.

Writing that “the media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different”, the vice president says the US is “winning the fight against the invisible enemy” and claims that “cases have stabilised over the past two weeks”.

Tweeting at the vice president, Ms Warren was unsparing in her criticism.

“So that’s it, @VP Pence? You’re just going to close your eyes, plug your ears, & pat yourself on the back for the public health catastrophe under your watch? This is as pathetic as it is reckless.”

The senator and former presidential candidate is not the only critic of Mr Pence, and of the administration’s recent pronouncements on the situation. The number of recorded cases is rising sharply in several states, with Arizona, Florida and Texas recording their highest daily case counts since the start of the pandemic.

And while some have put the rising numbers down to an increase in testing, others have pointed out that even taking that into account, the rate of positive tests is increasing too.

Among those pointing this out was no less than the administration’s own adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, who told the same paper in which Mr Pence’s op-ed appeared that increased testing does not increase the jump in cases — and that for all the talk of a second wave, “we’re still in a first wave”.

Ms Warren has been a critic of Mr Pence since the outbreak’s early stages. Back in late February, she slated the vice president’s elevation to lead the now-marginalised coronavirus task force, citing his much-criticised performance responding to Indiana’s HIV outbreak while governor.

“Let me just say,” she told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, “that the vice president, Pence, he is the wrong person to be leading this. He is actually the one guy around who has experience in dealing with a virus that gets out of control, only he’s the guy who went in exactly the wrong direction.

“He paid more attention to politics than he did to science, and that really created a health crisis in his state of Indiana. I cannot think of a worse person to put in charge of dealing with this coronavirus now.”

Ms Warren, who ended her presidential campaign in March, is reportedly one of the handful of women being vetted to serve as running mate for Joe Biden — and possibly the only white candidate at a time when Mr Biden is under pressure to pick a woman of colour.

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