Vice President Mike Pence discusses COVID-19 threat in Philadelphia, reopening country

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Philadelphia remains under the watch of the White House as a potential hotspot in this coronavirus fight, Vice President Mike Pence furthered the importance of social distancing on Thursday night.

Pence spoke one-on-one with Action News' Jim Gardner about the virus in Philadelphia and how the country is going to bounce back.

As the threat of the potential hotspot looms, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley has said the numbers may be slowing down but he appreciates the federal support.

Pence says the trends may be showing a different picture and federal officials just want Philadelphians to be on alert.

"We're beginning to see cases emerge and our experts have noted that the Philadelphia area is just at the very beginning to begin to trend in a direction that we want the people of Philadelphia to know now more than ever it's important to heed the guidance of Governor Wolf, to heed your state and local officials, to put into practice those principles of social distancing, personal hygiene that will ensure that the greater Philadelphia area does not have to endure what some other major metropolitan areas have endured," Pence said.

The need for mass testing is key and could be pivotal in preventing another mass outbreak. Pence says it will be an important objective.

"Well, as the president has said, we want to reopen the economy in Pennsylvania and all across America, when we can do so responsibly. Testing will be an important part of that but I think you make a very good point that our objective this summer, Jim, is to be at a place that we can go from what the experts called diagnostic testing, which is what we're doing today, as trying to identify people that have the coronavirus, to what's called surveillance testing. And we have every confidence that with the incredible response that we've gotten from laboratories and manufacturers, that we'll be making all of those tests," Pence said.

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Earlier this week, Action News spoke with former Vice President Joe Biden about his thoughts on how the government is handling the virus.

"The president didn't cause this virus, but he reacted incredibly too slowly to it and didn't acknowledge it's a federal responsibility," said Biden during the interview.

In response to Biden, Pence says he and his team are doing everything they can to reopen America as soon as possible.

"Well, what I would say is that when President Trump suspended all travel from China on January 31, which was something no American president had ever done. As the president would later begin screening all passengers from Italy from South Korea, suspending travel from Europe, the UK, and Ireland, as well as spinning up a whole new testing regime around the country, which today now has exceeded more than 2 million Americans having been tested. I promise your viewers that we're going to continue to take that approach every day until we put the coronavirus in the past and we reopen America," said Pence.
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