DALLAS (AP/KXAN) — Both Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledge that there has been a rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the state in recent weeks.
During a Sunday news conference in Dallas with Pence, Abbott said said the increase has been “swift and very dangerous” while Pence praised the governor for both his decision to begin reopening the state in early May and to close bars and limit restaurant dining on Friday.
Pence also encouraged all to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the virus. Both Pence and Abbott wore masks as they entered and left the room.
On Sunday morning, Pence spoke at the First Baptist Dallas attended the “Freedom Celebration Sunday” event at First Baptist Church Dallas. The event is an annual celebration with fireworks, held by the 14,000 member congregation. The megachurch’s pastor Robert Jeffress is one of President Donald Trump’s leading allies among conservative evangelical Christians.
Afterward, Pence met with Governor Abbott at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Despite his plans to speak in Dallas, Pence announced Friday that he was canceling campaign events in Florida and Arizona, which have been hard-hit by a surge in COVID-19 cases. He said he would travel and meet with the governors of Florida and Arizona, along with Governor Abbott in Dallas, to get a “ground report” of the spike in cases from their health teams.
All three of the states’ Republican governors have come under criticism for pushing for aggressive reopening after virus-related lockdowns as cases in the states rise.
The Biden for President campaign sent out a statement condemning Pence’s visit to the “Freedom Sunday Celebration,” saying in part, “Vice President Pence’s trip to Dallas epitomizes the dismissive attitude this administration has taken in addressing this crisis from the onset. Our leaders should be tackling this pandemic head on and laying out concrete recovery plans for the American people — not jet setting across the country to hold events that go against basic public health guidance. Families in the Lone Star state and across the country deserve better.”