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Pence says Americans should expect coronavirus cases to rise ‘in the days ahead’

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks on Covid-19 testing in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on September 28, 2020.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that Americans should expect Covid-19 cases to rise “in the days ahead” as testing increases and some Midwest states show worrying coronavirus trends.

The rate of Covid-19 tests that come back positive is now rising in 10 states in the Midwest and West, Pence said during a press conference from the White House’s Rose Garden alongside President Donald Trump. With that development and the United States’ “historic advance in testing,” the public “should anticipate that cases will rise in the days ahead,” he added.

“But as we more readily identify those who have contracted the coronavirus, the American people can be confident,” he said.

The U.S. has the worst outbreak in the world, with more than 7.1 million cases and at least 204,881 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On Monday, Reuters reported the rate of tests coming back positive for Covid-19 is topping 25% in several Midwest states in the U.S. as the number of cases and hospitalizations also surge in the region.

Trump and other U.S. officials have suggested increased testing is the reason the United States has the most cases in the world. But infectious diseases experts and scientists have pointed to hospitalizations, deaths and the positivity rate, which indicates the percentage of tests that come back positive in a given region, to dispel that claim. 

Earlier in the day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, said the U.S. is “not in a good place” as colder months loom and the number of newly reported coronavirus cases continues to swell beyond 40,000 people every day.

“There are states that are starting to show an uptick in cases and even some increase in hospitalizations in some states,” Fauci told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview aired Monday. 

“And I hope not, but we very well might start seeing increases in deaths,” Fauci said. He added that he’s concerned about being in “a position like that as the weather starts getting cold.”

The U.S. government plans to distribute 150 million rapid Covid-19 tests made by Abbott Laboratories in “the coming weeks” as the country moves into its fall season, Trump announced Monday at the press conference. He said about 100 million of the tests will go toward efforts to reopen schools, while 50 million will go to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Abbott has previously said it expected to ship tens of millions of tests in September, ramping to 50 million tests a month from the beginning of October.

Trump also reiterated his claim that the U.S. outbreak is “rounding the corner,” adding the nation has “too many states that are locked down right now.”

“Nobody knows what the governors are doing, actually,” he said.

Trump touted potential vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which are all currently in late-stage testing. He said the vaccines are “coming fast” and the results from the trials are going to be “very extraordinary.”

“Vaccines are coming, but we’re rounding the corner regardless,” he said.

— CNBC’s Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this report.

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