October 21, 2020

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus cases in the U.S. “have stabilized,” a document produced that same day by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and circulated to the other government agencies warns that infections in the U.S. have increased more than 18 percent.

“Cases have stabilized over the past two weeks, with the daily average case rate across the U.S. dropping to 20,000 — down from 30,000 in April and 25,000 in May,” Pence wrote Tuesday in his op-ed, which defended President Trump’s response to the pandemic.

Yet the CDC’s June 16 COVID-19 Response Update appears to paint a darker portrait of the state of the pandemic, with maps showing many counties in the U.S. experiencing increasing rates of the coronavirus. Of the figures highlighted, a chart shows that the U.S. rate of increase for the coronavirus using a three-day average is 18.3 percent. By comparison, two of the hardest-hit countries have declining rates based on this same three-day average: Brazil’s cases came down 27 percent, and Russia’s have decreased by almost 7 percent.

Neither the CDC nor Pence’s office responded to a request for comment. Pence remains the head of the White House coronavirus task force, which has all but faded from view in recent weeks. The task force’s last public briefing was in late April, though its members still meet regularly.

In a press briefing Friday, CDC Director Robert Redfield indicated that some of the increasing case numbers result from more widespread testing at facilities that have had large outbreaks, such as nursing homes, prisons and meat-processing facilities, but even that is “not explaining everything.”

The CDC update is marked as an “internal” government document, meaning it is not intended to be released to the public. Yahoo News obtained a copy of the report, which was distributed within the government the same day Pence’s op-ed was published.

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