Pence praises administration for COVID-19 response amid news of 200,000 deaths

Cheers of "four more years" go up at the Pence rally at Laconia Airport Authority on Tuesday. Pence responded with, "Four more years means more jobs, more support for our troops, more judges, and it's gonna take at least four more years to drain that swamp." Photo by Toni Caushi/BU News Service

By Toni Caushi
BU News Service

GILFORD, NH. – The U.S. is on track to developing the first COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday at a rally in Laconia Airport Authority.

“We’re developing new medicines which are saving lives every day,” Pence told the crowd of 200. “I’m proud to report to you [that] we are on track to have our first, safe and effective vaccine before the end of this year.”

The statement echoes the federal level efforts of Operation Warp Speed’s efforts to produce a vaccine by the end of the year. The CDC, FDA, NIH, BARDA, and DOD have been collaborating since May of 2020 on a fund of $10 billion to develop “300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021,” according to the US Department of Health and Safety. 

Both President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci have expressed optimism in the timeframe of the vaccine, the former even having expectations for enough doses to vaccinate every American by April of 2021. 

“Before the end of January, we started the process of developing a vaccine,” said Pence Tuesday. “We ran vetted testing and just a couple [of] days ago we [have] done 100 million tests – far more than any other nation on Earth, by far.”

Although an achievement, the landmark coincides with the grim news of 200,000 COVID-19 deaths as of Sept. 22, which Fauci told CNN was “very sobering, in some respects stunning.”

Pence continued to expound upon the success of the U.S.’ coronavirus response. 

“Working with manufacturers across the heartland of this nation, we built ventilators,” said Pence. “No American who ever required a ventilator was ever denied a ventilator in the United States.”

The statement contradicts the findings of scientific journals like the New England Journal of Medicine, which note that, at the climax of the worldwide eruption in symptomatic cases, many U.S. hospitals suffered shortages in ventilators and other crucial equipment.

The audience crowds together at the Pence rally in Gilford, NH, on Tuesday. Few followed COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and some said they “proudly” didn’t wear masks, claiming it was “a personal choice that affected only them.” Photo by Toni Caushi/BU News Service

Pence’s statements drew continuous cheering, applauding, whistling and whooping from those in attendance. The majority of the 200 attendees were wearing masks, but no one had regard for social distancing. 

When asked their thoughts on the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, attendees were overwhelmingly positive. One attendee, Harry Dean of Gilford, NH, went as far as to say that the government’s economic interventions were unnecessarily high, citing the $600 per week incentive that the government provided to citizens as part of the HEROES Act

“I think that the $600 per week was on the heavy side,” Dean said. “For the unemployed, it’s more profitable to not work than work.”

“Do the math,” he scoffed. 

In terms of receiving a vaccine, Dean responded strongly.

“Absolutely not,” said Dean. “I don’t know what’s gonna be in it. There’s talk of things to track you being in the vaccine…and the phone is bad enough,” hinting at claims by conspiracy theorists that a COVID-19 vaccine would come ‘spiked’ with a chip which could control mind and body. 

Similarly, Chau Kelley of Hooksett, NH, expressed complete satisfaction with Trump’s first term as president.

“Trump has a very good instinct,” said Kelley. “He knows what to do and can see anything coming. He saved millions of lives. He’s a genius.”

However, a possible COVID-19 vaccine still draws skepticism in Kelley’s anticipation, seeing the vaccine as “a personal choice rather than a mandatory act,” a conviction she also holds in wearing masks.

“Check the fake [news] media twice,” exclaims the man in red, as security at Tuesday’s Pence rally pats down members of the media. Photo by Toni Caushi/BU News Service

Pence touched on other topics; one of them is the debate over the choice for a successor to the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Talks by Senators Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham sparked an angry response, especially by Democratic leadership like presidential candidate Joe Biden, who criticized the hastiness of picking a new supreme court justice calling the efforts “an exercise of raw political power.”

“This Saturday, President Donald Trump will nominate another principled conservative – a woman to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Pence. “We’re gonna fill that seat,” he repeated twice, to the booming chants of the attendees. 

Pence ended the speech with a positive outlook for the incumbent president, inspiring attendees to vote.

“Only 42 days away from another victory for the American people,” said Pence. “Vote for four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House.”

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