Lockdowns on the Fourth of July? Maybe not, according to Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence told radio host Rush Limbaugh that the COVID-19 crisis could pass for much of the country as soon as June, as various states look to ease draconian restrictions to fight the virus, The Hill reported.
“I truly do believe if current trend lines hold, that by early June, we could largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us, and begin to see our nation open back up and go back to work,” Pence told Limbaugh on Thursday.
Pence: Crisis could pass by June
Pence’s message comes as various states have started opening up their economies — or plan to do so soon — as controversy rages nationwide on the prudence of “stay at home” orders that have devastated the economy, with some even beginning to speculate that the threat of the virus may have been oversold to the public.
Speaking with Limbaugh, Pence said that he is optimistic that the pandemic may pass in time for summer, citing continued signs of progress, and even speculated that many Americans may already have had the virus. If that’s true, then the impact of a seasonal resurgence in the fall and winter could be limited, he said, according to The Hill, adding:
There is a high likelihood that if you’ve had this coronavirus in the past, that you will enjoy some immunity from it in the future. It’s among the reasons why our nation, should the coronavirus reemerge at any time in the future, our nation will be in a much better place.
New antibody testing from New York, the epicenter of the virus in America, suggests that millions of state residents could already have contracted the virus, far more than official counts would suggest, according to NBC New York. Although the results are preliminary, they appear to reveal a lower mortality rate than many had feared.
“They were infected three weeks ago, four weeks ago, five weeks ago, six weeks ago. But they had the virus, they developed the antibodies and they are now recovered,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said on Thursday in reference to the findings, CNBC reported.
Social distancing remains priority
Pence has made similar projections elsewhere this week, telling the Wall Street Journal that “Americans are going to be able to enjoy a good summer.” His optimism has been echoed by those governors in places like South Carolina, Colorado, and Tennessee, who say that the virus has subsided enough for them to start moving on.
However, the road to restarting America remains an uncertain and staggered one. President Donald Trump has generally been eager to re-open the country, so it came as a surprise when he rebuked Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) this week for moving too quickly to relax restrictions, NBC News reported.
“I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,” Trump said Wednesday, according to NBC. “But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right. I want him to do what he thinks is right. But I disagree with him on what he’s doing.”
The president also suggested at his coronavirus briefing on Thursday that he could extend federal “social distancing” guidelines into the summer, CNBC reported. The federal government’s guidelines call for states to open up in three phases, although it is up to individual governors to decide when to proceed.
Pence also reinforced to Limbaugh the necessity of following “social distancing” for the time being, as America continues to battle the virus. “We urge [listeners] to continue to practice that social distancing, to continue to use the drive-thru at your local restaurant. Avoid gatherings of more than 10, listen to your state and local authorities,” he said, according to Mediaite. “Because as we track this data, state by state, county by county, we’re getting there.”