VP Pence visits Wisconsin amid criticism of COVID-19 response

NOW: VP Pence visits Wisconsin amid criticism of COVID-19 response

Updated: 5:51 p.m. on April 21, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Vice President Mike Pence visited a GE Healthcare facility amid criticism of the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GE Healthcare facility has shifted production to ventilators needed in response to the pandemic. Pence toured the facility and shared words of gratitude and encouragement to workers.

“Keep up the great work here, you’re making a difference,” Pence told one worker. The vice president participated in a roundtable discussion where he added, “As I walked through the plant, I just, I frankly felt more than a little emotional.”

Pence highlighted the efforts of the workers as an example of how the country has stepped up to meet needs during the crisis.

“You all have played a leading role in ensuring that our incredible health care providers have the resources and equipment that they need to save lives,” Pence said during the roundtable.

The visit comes as the federal response to the pandemic continues to come under scrutiny.

The White House provided numbers to members of the press, highlighting what supplies have been delivered to Wisconsin as of last week. Between both Project Airbridge and the Strategic National Stockpile, the state has received 371,000 N95 masks, about 2.1 million surgical and procedural masks, more than 128,000 surgical and isolation gowns and some 47.3 million surgical and exam gloves.

But democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin believe the most dire need is in testing supplies.

“Where the hell is the federal response for places like Wisconsin?” Rep. Mark Pocan (D – WI) said in a video news conference Tuesday morning. “If we can’t test, we can’t open up.”

Pence told CBS 58 sister station WISC News 3 Now that he spoke with Governor Tony Evers Tuesday morning about the status of supplies and testing.

“We’re confident that we have a sufficient amount of testing all across America today for every state to enter phase one,” Pence said.

In a media briefing Monday, Gov. Evers said he took issue with the vice president’s claims that there is enough testing available.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin democrats, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Gwen Moore and Rep. Pocan sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday, outlining the state’s needs and asking him to step up his response to the pandemic.

“In order to put people back to work and reopen businesses, we need your Administration to step up and provide Wisconsin with the guidance, supplies, and PPE we need to conduct widespread testing,” the democrats wrote in the letter.

Specifically, the lawmakers want the president to continue to exercise his power under the Defense Production Act to boost needed supplies.

“We need the president to get reagents and test kits and personal protection equipment that we’ve asked for,” Pocan said. “That we can’t get because the president hasn’t gotten this response right.”


Posted: 10:34 a.m. on April 21, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence was highlighting the manufacturing of ventilators during a visit to battleground Wisconsin.

Democrats are using the trip to blame the Trump administration for failing to deliver needed supplies to the state to fight the coronavirus.

Vice President Joe Biden in a statement Tuesday accused Pence of using the state as a "backdrop to a political photo opportunity."

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan, all Democrats, said in a letter to Trump ahead of the Pence visit that Wisconsin does not have the supplies it needs to combat the virus.

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