In an exclusive interview with CBN News, Vice President Mike Pence says the country is making real progress in the battle against the deadly coronavirus.
Before interviewing Vice President Pence on Friday, this reporter had a quick question. "How close can we get?" I asked as he entered the Ceremonial Office on the grounds of the White House. "You got tested right?" Pence asked me. I did indeed, and so, with a COVID-19 elbow bump, the interview with the vice president was on.
An hour before we sat down together, The White House Medical Unit had given me a rapid test for the virus. It came back negative but the more pressing issue: will America hear some positive news soon about getting back to normal after the April 30th guidelines are finished?
"David, we're seeing real progress," the vice president told me. "We're going to be following the data very carefully but if as some of the experts suggest if we are nearing the peak of the coronavirus and if Americans continue to do what they've been doing now for weeks across the country… we believe we'd be in a very different place come the end of April and we'll be able to bring forward recommendations."
It's clear the federal government lagged on testing early mainly due to a bureaucratic process full of red tape. Pence says the model is now changing because the administration is getting the private sector more heavily involved.
"We've developed an all-new testing format," Pence said. "Abbott Laboratories has a 15-minute test. I think you just took it. We're working to make it available all across the country, but the reality was there were always many test kits out there, but the ability to process them rapidly was what the president addressed when we brought the full power of the private sector together… we're going to continue to scale and increase the amount of testing during this epidemic, but also create a foundation for a new modern rapid testing system for coronavirus and, and other diseases for years to come."
While the testing is getting better, people of faith still must follow guidelines, which means no in-person church services. Most have obeyed and doors remain closed.
"Our churches and synagogues and communities of faith across America have risen to the challenge," Vice President Pence tells CBN News. Still, a handful of churches are worshipping in person, a fact that Pence addresses from a biblical perspective. "I would just remind, as a brother in Christ, that where two or more are gathered, there He is also." Pence says it's time to push through. "We're all making do, but we can still worship, we can still practice our faith and the really important social distancing that, at this time, in the life of our nation, is just so important."
Also important, according to the vice president: giving to places of worship during this critical time. "Even if you're not in the pew on Sunday, that ministry is still going on," he says. "So to the extent that you're able to continue to contribute to your local church, your local synagogue, your ministry, we encourage you to that because those communities of faith are making such an immense difference."
Congress is trying to make a difference too, by spending lots of money. So far, Pence likes the bipartisan cooperation. "It really has been a testament of Congress working at its best." The vice president says relief is on the way. "The average family of four by this time next week will receive a direct payment of $3,400 to assist them during this time, but for small businesses around the country, we've literally enrolled thousands upon thousands of companies in the paycheck protection program, which will allow small businesses to keep people on the payroll for two months."
Still, the squabbling continues. "Look, there will be issues that will be debated in the days ahead," Pence acknowledges. Especially on nationwide mail-in balloting, something Democrats are pushing to get funded. Republicans say it's political. Pence isn't showing the administration's game plan quite yet. "Well, I'd leave that to others and that will be an important debate in the days ahead… our objective right now is to put the coronavirus in the past."
As the leader of the Coronavirus Task Force, Pence believes there will indeed be light at the end of this very dark and tumultuous tunnel.
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