Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday vowed that the Trump administration would “keep opening up America” despite a recent surge in coronavirus cases.
Pence told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that the White House will stay with state leaders “every step of the way as they continue to take steps to mitigate the expansion of the coronavirus.”
The vice president’s remarks came after President Donald Trump celebrated a record-breaking rise in nonfarm payrolls in June. The U.S. added 4.8 million jobs last month, according to the Labor Department.
But despite Trump’s optimism on the economy, a recent spike in coronavirus cases has other administration officials, such as health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, warning that the outbreak will be “very disturbing” if it is not reined in quickly.
The U.S. on Wednesday reported more than 50,000 Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, marking the highest single-day total yet as the virus sweeps through Sun Belt states.
Pence said the White House wants to “make sure these states have everything they need” to fight the outbreak.
“But we’re going to keep opening up America again and have more days just like today,” Pence said.
All 50 states have begun relaxing their strict social distancing measures, which aimed to slow the spread of the virus but ground their economies to a virtual halt. Amid the surge in infections, however, many state leaders in recent weeks have reimposed restrictions and delayed certain businesses and activities from resuming.
“I think some places might have been overexuberant,” Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, told reporters Thursday after the president finished his remarks on the jobs report and left the White House briefing room without taking questions.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who also stuck around after Trump’s departure, said that the White House is “encouraging Americans to wear masks” despite the administration rejecting calls to impose a national mask mandate.
Trump said in an interview Wednesday that he doubted that a national mandate was necessary because “you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance.”
Pence told CNBC he doesn’t believe “there’s a need for a national mandate” on masks.
“The truth is that we’re monitoring right now 12 states that have rising cases and rising positivity, and we’re fully supporting efforts that the governors are taking and local health officials are taking to encourage people to practice good hygiene, social distancing, wear a mask where social distancing is not possible,” he said.
“But the reality is as you see in these economy numbers today, this economy is coming back strongly because the American people have learned along the way how we get our country back to work, how we get back to worship, and ultimately how we get back to school.”
Disclosure: Larry Kudlow is a former CNBC contributor.