“I think the president would respect any decisions that are made at the state and local level,” he said in an interview that aired March 1 on NBC’s “Meet the Press," hosted by uber-partisan Chuck Todd.
During the interview, Pence, who was put in charge of the nation's response to the emerging outbreak last month, was clear that the federal government would initially try to take a federalist -- that is, minimalist -- approach to its response to the virus, allowing for local governments and businesses to decide what restrictions they want to implement and to implement them when they believe they are necessary.
Still, Pence repeated earlier calls for Americans not to panic or overreact, though for many, it is getting more difficult to take that advice.
“Those are decisions that governors, in consultation with local health officials, will make as they deem that necessary,” Pence said when asked about how local schools should respond to the outbreak. “But other than in areas where there are individuals that have been infected with the coronavirus, people need to understand that for the average American, the risk does remain low."
Also, the vice president noted that the federal government's priority is to ensure the safety of the American people as he downplayed last week's massive drop in the stock market. As Natural News reported, "The U.S. stock market capped its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis on Friday, with all major stock indexes tanking over worries that COVID-19 could potentially end one of the longest economic expansions in history and send the global economy into recession."
“What the president has told us to do on the task force, what he did when he initiated the suspension of all travel from China, the quarantining effort, is we’re leaning into this effort,” Pence told NBC. “It’s all hands on deck. Because our effort here is to do everything possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the United States."
Pence made his comments less than 48 hours after the first reported coronavirus death in the United States. A man living in Washington state was reported to have perished from the virus in a care facility in Seattle. The VP told Todd that the man was in his 50s and had other "high-risk factors."
“Of the now 22 Americans, including the man who sadly lost his life, the majority of them are recovering well,” Pence said. The Epoch Times reports that officials in Washington state "are now investigating a long-term health care facility in Kirkland following the death and a positive COVID-19 diagnosis of a health care worker there."
People are clearly worried, however. As NewsTarget reported Sunday, Americans around the country are mobbing big box stores -- especially places like Costco and Sam's Club, where food is sold -- to buy up provisions and supplies in anticipation of a major coronavirus outbreak.
But the mere mention that schools around the country could shut down for any length of time was another indication that the virus outbreak may wind up being far worse than anyone's been saying thus far. And where widespread closures to occur, imagine how much productivity would be lost around the country, since in most two-parent households, both spouses work outside the home. If the kids are off of school, one parent is most likely going to have to be home with them, causing not just lost production but lost wages.
All of which would lead to an economic nightmare on the scale of China.