Concern after VP Mike Pence, responsible for a HIV outbreak, heads up US COVID-19 response
On February 26, US President Donald Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence would be responsible for co-ordinating the country's response to the ongoing coronavirus threat.
Vice President Pence has a less than stellar reputation when it comes to public health. Whilst serving as governor of Indiana he cut healthcare costs and suspended harm reduction programs, causing the largest HIV outbreak in the history of the state.
President Trump's decision has already provoked a backlash from individuals involved in investigating the previously mentioned outbreak of HIV in Indiana.
Yale University epidemiologist Gregg Gonçalves, who conducted a study linking Indiana’s HIV outbreak to Pence’s policy, tweeted that Trump’s decision says "there is no seriousness from the White House.”
According to The Verge, even before the Indiana incident, Pence was linked to a story about downplaying the effect of smoking on lung cancer. In 2000, he wrote that "despite hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking does not kill."
At time of publishing, in the United States, 106 people have documented cases of COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus, with 7 linked deaths.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are likely to be more COVID-19 cases in the country, and people should be prepared for changes in their daily lives if the virus begins to spread widely.