If President Donald Trump had not taken "unprecedented steps," the coronavirus outbreak's effects would be much more serious in the United States, Vice President Mike Pence, who is coordinating the government's response to the outbreak, said Thursday night.
"The reality is that because of the actions that President Trump took ... you know, ending travel, closing our borders to people coming in from China, establishing a quarantine process, setting up a task force, if the president hadn't taken those unprecedented steps we'd be in a very different place today," Pence told Fox News' Sean Hannity.
On Wednesday, Trump said Pence is in charge of coordinating the federal government's response. Pence told Hannity that action happened quickly even before Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Jan. 31 declared the disease a public health emergency.
"When we first received word of the outbreak of the coronavirus shortly after the first of the year, the health team came in," said Pence, recalling their recommendations to end air travel, close the border, and establish quarantines for Americans returning to the United States.
"President Trump didn't hesitate for one second. He said, 'do it,'" said Pence, noting that no other president has taken such extreme action.
As of Thursday, there had not been a new coronavirus case reported nationwide for two weeks, with the exception of a patient in California whose illness is considered the first community transfer of the virus.
"We've had 15 cases in this country," said Pence. "People are being treated and doing well."
He also said the White House hopes lawmakers will put politics aside while the country deals with the outbreak, and that he has had "good conversations" with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer after Trump asked him to reach out to them.
During Wednesday's press briefing, however, Trump accused both of politicizing the coronavirus issue and said Pelosi is trying to cause panic.
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