Overnight Health Care: Pence says panic over second coronavirus wave ‘overblown’

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care

More Americans have now died from coronavirus infections than during all of World War I. Cases are climbing, especially in the Sun Belt. Vice President Pence said the concerns of a second wave of the virus are “overblown,” and administration officials pledged that any potential vaccine would be free for some people. 

We’ll start with Pence:

Pence: Panic over second coronavirus wave ‘overblown’

Vice President Pence on Tuesday blamed the media for stoking concerns of a “second wave” of coronavirus in the United States, insisting in an op-ed that the Trump administration’s response has been successful even as infections are climbing in several states.

The vice president, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that panic over a rebound in coronavirus cases is “overblown” while touting the administration’s handling of the pandemic.

“The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success,” he wrote. “We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future. That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear mongering.”

In reality: Experts dispute that the country is facing a second wave, and instead have expressed concern that the country never fully got past the first wave of infections. The virus is now hitting areas that were initially spared while New York, California, Washington and New Jersey were devastated. 

Pence and President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP seeks to restrict use of chokeholds in police reform bill Obama wishes country a ‘Happy Pride month’ after SCOTUS decision protecting LGBTQ rights Trump leads Biden by one point in Iowa: poll MORE have repeatedly attempted to downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, and the administration has largely shifted its focus from addressing the health impacts of the virus to reopening states as quickly as possible.

Read more here.

Things not looking great in Texas: State hits new high for coronavirus cases, hospitalizations

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday urged people to stay home as the state registered the highest number of new hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, marking the fifth consecutive day of rising hospitalizations.

Abbott reported that 2,622 people tested positive on Tuesday for the coronavirus, a new daily record for the Lone Star State. The prior record had been set on June 10, when 2,504 tested positive.

The state’s Health and Human Services Department also reported that 2,518 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients are currently in Texas hospitals, up from 2,326 on Monday. Hospitalizations have been on a steady upward trend since May 25, when about 1,500 were hospitalized.

“If you do not need to go out, the best advice is still to stay at home,” Abbott said at a press conference in Austin.  

Still, Abbott said hospitals have plenty of capacity to deal with a surge in hospitalizations, and the state is moving along with reopening, allowing restaurants to use 75 percent of their capacity and allowing most businesses to operate…

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