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In S.C. visit, Pence stresses wearing masks, praises McMaster

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 8:51 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In an exclusive interview with WIS-TV during his visit to South Carolina, Vice President Mike Pence addressed people who believe the virus is being overblown and believe wearing a mask is an infringement on personal freedom.

“The rising cases in South Carolina and across the Sunbelt is serious and people need to take it seriously. We all have a role to play,” the vice president said Tuesday.

He went mentioned people need to practice safe hygiene, to practice social distancing, and to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.

“I’m very confident the people of South Carolina are going to do just that.”

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife wave during their visit to South Carolina on July 21,...
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife wave during their visit to South Carolina on July 21, 2020.(WRDW)

The vice president also addressed what he would do differently about the response to the pandemic with the benefit of hindsight if anything.

Pence stressed President Trump took “early, decisive action” to prevent anyone from coming into the U.S. from China, formed the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and spearheaded widespread testing in the U.S.

“We literally reinvented testing,” Pence said.

After follow up the vice president did not say whether he would change anything about the administration’s response but said, “my focus is completely on today and going forward, and we will let others judge what happened.”

Also during the visit ...

Pence hosted a round-table discussion with educators, parents, and students from across the state at the University of South Carolina Tuesday afternoon. Gov. Henry McMaster and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also participated in the round-table.

They talked about how the state has handled the COVID-19 response and what needs to be done so schools re-open safely in the state.

Afterward, the vice president addressed the public and shared thoughts from the round-table discussion. Pence said he supports everything McMaster has done in South Carolina concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vice President said the rising number of cases in the Sun Belt is ‘serious’.

Pence said the country is in a much better place to respond to the pandemic than we were a few months ago.

"To the people of South Carolina, we are with you," Pence said at the beginning of his briefing. The Vice President said the federal government is making sure South Carolina has enough resources to fight the pandemic.

He also applauded McMaster for the state’s focus to protect the elderly in nursing homes. Pence said the federal government will be providing rapid testing capabilities for all nursing homes across the country to protect the most vulnerable.

The Vice President also said McMaster did a great job urging schools to reopen to in-person learning at the start of the year.

"The reality is without getting our kids back in the schools this fall -- students who are struggling academically and in reading are going to fall further and further behind. There will be long term impacts on their academic futures," Pence said.

According to Pence, getting students back in the classroom in the fall will also help working parents. He said this will help South Carolina's economy get back to normal in the midst of the pandemic.

"When it comes between a choice of dealing between the pandemic or opening up America - it's not an 'either-or'. We can do both," Pence said.

He said everyone plays a role in slowing down the spread of COVID-19. He reminded people to wear masks, practice social distancing, and good personal hygiene.

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