Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 9, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Pence Urges Governors to Parrot Trump's Lie That Spikes in Covid-19 Cases Largely Caused by Increase in Testing

"This dishonesty has caused increased deaths and will cause more. They are effectively killing people for perceived political gain."

Jake Johnson

Vice President Mike Pence urged governors during a conference call on Monday to parrot President Donald Trump's lie that the spikes in Covid-19 cases reported by more than a dozen states across the U.S. in recent days are largely the result of an increase in testing, and do not necessarily amount to evidence that reopenings are causing the virus to spread.

"I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing," Pence said on the call, according to audio obtained by the New York Times. "And that in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that's more a result of the extraordinary work you're doing."

A readout of the call released by the White House late Monday says "participants discussed the significant surge in testing capacity across the nation" but does not mention Pence's effort to tie the increase in testing to the new surges in Covid-19 cases documented by a number of states as they move to reopen businesses.

Pence's remarks to the nation's governors represent an iteration of Trump's absurd claim Monday afternoon that "if we stop testing right now, we'd have very few cases, if any."

"Pence is lying," tweeted Harvard epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding. "Positivity is going up, which means case rise is outstripping testing volume."

As the Washington Post's Philip Bump explained Monday:

In six states—Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming—the seven-day average of new cases has increased since May 31 while the average number of daily tests being conducted has declined, according to data collected by the Covid Tracking Project and the New York Times. In 14 other states, the rate of new cases is increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests.

There are more concrete warning signs in some places. In 10 states, the seven-day average of the rate at which tests are coming back positive has increased more than 2 percentage points since the end of May. In 11 other states, the seven-day average for the number of new deaths is up at least 5 percent since the end of last month.

During the call with governors Monday, according to the Times, Pence downplayed new outbreaks of Covid-19 across the U.S.—and the resulting increase in hospitalizations in several states—as "intermittent" spikes that can be quickly ameliorated and claimed the virus has been effectively contained.

"Four months and 120,000 plus deaths in, the White House is still pursuing a strategy of lying about coronavirus and pushing states to lie too," tweeted Mother Jones reporter Dan Friedman. "This dishonesty has caused increased deaths and will cause more. They are effectively killing people for perceived political gain."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

British Court Rules Assange Can Appeal US Extradition

"As long as this case isn't dropped, as long as Julian isn't freed, Julian continues to suffer," said Stella Moris, Assange's fiancée.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Considering Deploying Thousands of Troops to Eastern Europe

Anti-war commentators warned of an "exceedingly dangerous quagmire" in Ukraine if the U.S. ramps up its military presence in the region.

Jake Johnson ·


Leaked Report Suggests Impunity for IDF Troops in Deadly Stop of Palestinian-American Elder

"This is a policy: Israel does not prosecute those responsible for harming Palestinians, thus making their lives miserable," said the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Exactly Right': Progressives Back Arizona Dems Censure of Sinema

"If you are a Democrat and you can't uphold the fundamental right to vote for all citizens... then there's a problem," said Rep. Ro Khanna.

Brett Wilkins ·


Amid Existential Threat to Reproductive Rights, Congress Urged to Act

"It's the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and if we don't fight like hell it could very well be the last," said one campaigner, who called on U.S. lawmakers to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo