Pence Admits Downplaying Coronavirus Situation Is "Irresponsible Rhetoric"

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Mike Pence

The vice president made the remarks in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC's 'Today' show on Thursday after she referenced a tweet from President Trump earlier in the week in which he appeared to downplay the severity of the outbreak.

Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday said “irresponsible rhetoric” is what has been coming from people who have downplayed the seriousness of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak.

In an interview on NBC's Today show, Savannah Guthrie grilled the vice president, who said, yes, coronavirus is more dangerous than the flu and he expects the country to see thousands more cases in the following weeks and months.

President Donald Trump for weeks has been downplaying both the effects of the virus and the situation in the United States. 

Guthrie brought up a tweet from Trump on Monday in which he said the “fake news media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything to inflame the coronavirus situation.” She asked him what he would say to people who aren't afraid of the virus and think it is just politics and hype.

“There's been some irresponsible rhetoric, but the American people should know President Trump has no higher priority than the health and safety and well-being of the people of this country,” Pence said.

Trump on Wednesday night said in an Oval Office address that the U.S. will ban most foreign travelers from Europe, except the United Kingdom, for the next 30 days.

“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history," Trump said. "I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus." 

As of Thursday, there have been more than 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States and it has killed at least 33 people.

Watch the interview below.