VP Mike Pence joined FNC’s Sean Hannity Tuesday evening to discuss the administration’s effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic:
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: OK, let’s start — we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, a lot of things are now happening fluid but this 15 days of guidelines for the American people, and the reason for the importance of this? MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well Sean, first, thank you for your efforts to convey the president’s coronavirus guidelines for America. What the President unveiled yesterday and what we’re — what we’re pleased to learn is being embraced by states and communities and millions of American families, for what we believe is important for every American to do over the next two weeks to significantly impact the spread of the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead. All of our experts tell us, and they advised the President as he endorsed these guidelines, to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people, to — if you’re sick, stay home, if there’s someone in your home contracts the coronavirus that everyone should stay home. All of those recommendations are part in parcel of an effort by our experts endorsed by the President to limit the reach of the coronavirus over the coming weeks and months. We need every American, every American business to step forward and recognize that if we act now — if we act now, we can limit the spread of the coronavirus significantly and ultimately save lives. HANNITY: Let’s go through a little checklist if we can. I know you don’t have a lot of time. How quickly will the drive-up testing sites in Walmart and CVS parking lots – Targets, et cetera – I wish I could name them all, because I think they’ve really stepped up to the plate. How long do you expect those online for those people that need tests, and how big of a part of the country will be covered? PENCE: Well, what’s happening is that as of last week, 10 states around the country had initiated drive-thru testing centers. But Sean, they were using the old manual testing methods in labs, which could only test about 40 to 60 people a week. Because President Trump two weeks ago brought together the top commercial labs in the country and because the FDA moved in record time, now we have what are called high through put tests, automated tests that can literally test thousands of people a day for the coronavirus. And I couldn’t be more proud. Admiral Giroir and the dedicated people at U.S. Public Health Service and FEMA are working with states around the country to build on the states’ efforts to establish drive-thru and community coronavirus testing centers. Those are coming online starting tomorrow, and they’ll be widening their scope around the country. We’re going to be supporting state efforts. We’re going to be working with them to make sure that those great retailers, which are CVS and Target and Walgreens and Walmart that have — are opening their parking lots for drive-thru centers, are included. But the American people can be confident that now that we have the commercial labs around the country with those high speed automated tests, you’re literally going to see tens of thousands of tests in the days and weeks ahead for the American people. HANNITY: Let’s talk about will we have enough medical equipment — respirators, ventilators. I know, as I said, some were released by the Pentagon. That’s really good news in a worst case scenario. Also I talked to Dr. Fauci, he likes to say he wants to err on the side of caution. Worst case scenario is what you’re planning for. Are we ready for that? For example, cities that might be overwhelmed, would we have triage capabilities, doctors on standby with all the equipment that they need — the tents, the medical supplies, supporting staff that we could C-130 cargo plane them over and they could set up and they’re on the ground to take on more capacity if hospital systems are overwhelmed? PENCE: Well, Sean, today the President convened the nation’s top industrial suppliers, names that are familiar to you — Home Depot, Amazon and others. And — and we directed them today to ensure that those critical medical supplies are being focused away from construction and other industries and focused exclusively on the needs of our healthcare industry. The President’s made it clear, this is all hands on deck. We’re going to continue to work with businesses. We’re going to continue to work closely with governors. I spoke to the governor of New Jersey today. I spoke to the governor of Washington State yesterday. We are day by day evaluating what their needs are, because our priority is people that — that have contracted the coronavirus, making sure they have the testing and the care that every American would want for their family. And our second priority right after it is our healthcare workers, Sean. And President Trump has made it clear that we’re going to use every effort of the federal government, every resource of the government, as well as harnessing the power of the private sector to make sure our healthcare workers have the personal protective equipment that they need to do their job safely. HANNITY: Mr. Vice President, I want to ask you this, especially on the economy, we know that there are checks going out starting, I believe in the next two weeks, people paying their taxes will get a delay, no penalties, no interest. There’s going to be small business loan availability set up for those small businesses and relief for workers and relief for those industries in particular, airlines, the president has mentioned cruise line industry, directly impacted through no fault of their own here. We may be spending close to a trillion dollars? PENCE: Sean, what the President’s made clear, and every American be confident is, we’re going to do whatever it takes. Any hourly worker in this country who feels like they may have contracted the coronavirus should stay home, and they shouldn’t worry about missing a paycheck. We’re working with Congress to ensure that paid leave is available for hard working Americans, but making sure that this economy gets back on its feet, that Americans are able to weather this time has — is also a priority for President Trump. We’re talking with leadership in both parties on Capitol Hill. And we’re very confident that as Congress did before with the Supplemental Bill, the legislation that’s moving through today that will bring paid family leave and cover the cost of a coronavirus test for every American, whether they have insurance or not, we’re going to build on that, an economic stimulus package that will bring us through this time. And when we are through the coronavirus, as the president said again today, we know this economy will come roaring back, Sean. And all the fundamentals are there, and the best thing we can do for the economy is what the president called on every American to do yesterday in the 15 days to slow the spread. The more we can do, every single one of us, to prevent the spread in our family, in our community, at our place of work, the sooner we will be through this. It will still be weeks and months to go, but we can lessen the impact of the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead, and we can save lives. And as the President said, when we defeat the coronavirus in the United States, this economy will come roaring back.