Pence had canceled appearances in Florida and Arizona as each state has seen a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases. However, a representative for Pence said the vice president still planned to travel to Texas, Florida and Arizona to meet with governors.
“President Trump wanted us to be here today with the developments over the last two weeks with the rising positivity and the rising number of cases with a very simple message and that is to use people of Texas: We’re with you,” Pence said during a news conference with Abbott on Sunday.
Pence stressed that citizens should “wear a mask,” stressing that experience showed that wearing them “will slow the spread.”
The governor described how two weeks ago, something changed, and the virus took a “very swift and very dangerous turn.”
On Friday, federal officials announced funding for testing sites would be extended for 14 days. Abbott said that would now extend “every bit as long as Texas wants us to.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Texas had a good reopening plan, but the spike had derailed it.
“It was a very serious and safe opening plan and you can see the impact of the opening plan and how it worked out,” Birx said. “All of May, for almost five weeks, and then there was an inflection point. What we are seeing here is an increased rate of hospitalization of 20-40-year-olds.”
Abbott already had taken action, closing bars on Friday and resuming certain lockdown restrictions, such as reducing capacities of restaurants to only 50 percent.
Texas has seen several days of record spikes, seeing over 5,000 new cases each day, with 5,747 new cases on June 27.
Overall, Texas has confirmed some 149,000 cases, as well as over 2,300 deaths.