Mike Pence: Trump’s maskless rallies are “defending freedom”

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Vice President Mike Pence defended President Donald Trump’s election rallies on Friday as the right to peaceful assembly and part of freedom of speech when he said, “We have an election to come this fall. “

In the first public briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force since April, Pence was grilled over how he and the task force could recommend that people listen to local officials for advice on the Coronavirus pandemic when the campaign ignored Tulsa’s expert advice on holding Saturday’s Gathering there.

“Well, I want to remind you once again that freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly are enshrined in the constitution of the United States. Even in the health crisis, the American people do not lose our constitutional rights, ”said Pence in response.

“By working with state officials, as we have done in Oklahoma and as we have done in Arizona, we are creating frameworks where people can choose to participate in the political process. We will continue to do so, ”he added.

And he said, “We have elections coming up this fall. “

Vice President Mike Pence defended President Donald Trump’s election rallies as the right to peaceful assembly

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, encouraged all Americans to take safety measures - including social distancing and wearing a face mask

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, encouraged all Americans to take safety measures – including social distancing and wearing a face mask

Pence and Coronavirus Task Force members briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Tony Fauci and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alexander Azar came as the United States saw an increase in infections as the country began to reopen.

Infections rose in the United States by at least 39,818 on Thursday, marking the worst day since the virus first struck the United States.

Some states – Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Florida among themselves – have put a stop to their reopenings as their COVID-19 numbers have increased.

“Our goal today is to make sure that in these parts of the country receive a significant increase, not only an increase in the number of cases, but an increase in the level of positivity, that the American people know how it is important to listen to what it is. state and local health officials are asking them to do so, “said the vice president.

But the Trump campaign ignored these local warnings about the Tulsa election rally on Saturday – its first since March. Health officials in Tulsa urged the campaign to postpone the event, noting the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma. Trump and Pence both spoke at the rally.

Tulsa’s health department director, Dr. Bruce Dart, warned that anyone who attended was at “increased risk” of contracting the coronavirus. He also admitted that he would like to see the rally postponed, but since that was not going to happen, officials would have to deal with the fallout.

“I recommended that we postpone it until it is safer,” he said. “If we could go back to when the data indicated that it is safer, that was my personal recommendation, that is what I would personally like to see happen. It’s here, so let’s focus on safety while he’s here.

The Trump campaign highlighted the security measures it had put in place – including temperature controls and the distribution of face masks. But participants were not required to wear the masks.

In addition, eight members of the advanced team, including members of the intelligence services, tested positive for the coronvirus. After the rally, several campaign staff quarantined themselves as a precaution.

Trump hosted a similar event in Phoenix on Tuesday when he spoke to a group of 3,000 students – an event that looked like a campaign rally.

Most of the participants in the Tulsa and Phoenix events did not wear masks or social distance.

President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since March Saturday, even as Tulsa officials warned and campaign personnel self-isolated after that

President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since March Saturday, even as Tulsa officials warned and campaign personnel self-isolated after that

President Trump also spoke to 3,000 students in Phoenix Tuesday at an event that resembled a campaign rally

President Trump also spoke to 3,000 students in Phoenix Tuesday at an event that resembled a campaign rally

Before Tulsa’s rally, Fauci said he would not go, noting that his age put him in a high-risk category.

And, during a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Fauci offered this advice: “Plan A: Don’t go into the crowd. Plan B: If you do, make sure you wear a mask. ‘

Fauci, at Friday’s Coronavirus task force briefing, encouraged all Americans to take safety measures – including social distancing and wearing a face mask, noting that even people low risk of getting seriously ill from COVID could pass on to someone in a high risk category.

“If we don’t stop the epidemic sooner or later, even those who are doing well will be vulnerable to the spread. So we have to take it into account, because we are all there and the only way to end it is to do it together, “said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

When Fauci had finished speaking and was walking from the podium, Pence grabbed his arm and said “well said”.

Pence spent Friday’s briefing trying to reverse the “remarkable progress” the administration has made in the fight against the virus, even if the numbers show a different story.

“We have slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. We have saved lives, ”he said.

Asked by DailyMail.com if he expected the death rate to rise, Pence replied, “Our hope and prayer is not. “

“One is too much. We mourn the loss of every American life, ”added Pence.

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