Mike Pence greets tightly-packed staff at Trump headquarters, June 2020

Cases of Coronavirus are rising in 22 US states, including big surges in some areas. But Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump’s loyalists are denying any increase.

On Tuesday, there were record one-day rises in Florida (2,783), Texas (2,622), and Arizona (2,392).

The governors of all three states are Trump allies who followed his demand to quickly lift stay-at-home and social distancing measures, dismissing public health guidance.

Oklahoma, where Trump is defying White House medical advisors with a campaign rally on Saturday, has an 123% increase in cases in the past two weeks

Other states5 with a rise of more than 70% include Alabama (83%), Arkansas (74%), Oregon (207%), and South Carolina (135%).

The US death toll rose to 116,963 on Tuesday, continuing a daily increase of about 800 fatalities. Confirmed cases are now 2,137,731.

Pence to Governors: Praise Trump

On Monday, Pence instructed Governors to deny any problem and to praise Trump:

I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, make sure to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing and in that, in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rising number, that’s more a result of the extraordinary work you’re doing, expanding testing using that public-private partnership that the President forged months ago.

In fact, a meeting between Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, focused on an increase that was not due to testing.

But the Vice President wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “there isn’t a Coronavirus ‘second wave” and that “we are far better off than the media report”.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, followed the script at a news conference Tuesday, “There’s been community spread the whole time.”

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said that the increase in the virus reflected “anomalies”, and blamed people under 30 for being too casual about masks and social distancing.

Epidemiologists dismissed the denials by Trump’s allies, noting the rise in the percentage of positive tests and hospitalizations. In Florida, more than 4.5% of those tested between May 31 and June 6 were infected, compared with about 2.3% in mid-May.

Officials: “They’re In Denial”

A senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took apart Pence’s rhetoric:

I don’t know what his source is on that information, but that’s not accurate. You can cherry-pick a handful of counties and use that as way to say things are not as bad as they look. But that’s not the reality….

Our data shows that there continues to be spread, particularly in communities of color. It’s both higher rates and disproportionate numbers. By state, the numbers are absolutely increasing and they’re increasing in states that opened up earlier.

An official connected to the White House Task Force, which has been sidelined by Trump since he suggested ingestion of disinfectant last month, said of Trump and Pence: “They just don’t want to deal with the reality of it. They’re in denial.”

Trump: Testing “Makes Us Look Bad”

Rattled by the numbers, Donald Trump spent Tuesday night retweeting his garbled messages of denial:

He refused to step back from his Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, blasting the “Far Left Fake News Media” and “Rioters & Looters”. He proclaimed that “Almost One Million people” had requested tickets.

At a Tuesday press appearance, Trump went even farther by repeating his proclamation that Coronavirus will “disappear”, even if there is no vaccine.

Meanwhile, Pence continued his cheerleading in The Wall Street Journal:

Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.

At a campaign appearance in a Iowa restaurant on Tuesday, Pence did not wear a mask or practice social distancing as he greeted diners.

Last week, Pence posted a photo of his visit with a large group of tightly-clustered staff at Trump campaign headquarters. No one was wearing a mask.

The picture has since been deleted.