DALLAS, Texas (KETK) – Vice President Mike Pence encouraged people living in areas with rising numbers of COVID-19 cases to wear face masks in public when social distancing is not possible.
“Wear a mask wherever it’s indicated, wherever you’re not able to practice the kind of social distancing that would prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Pence said at a press conference Sunday at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Pence appeared with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson at the press conference, which was part of Pence’s visit to Texas.
The vice president was in the state to speak at First Baptist Church’s Celebrate Freedom rally.
Organizers say about 2,200 people attended the rally in the 3,000-seat church.
Pence wore a mask when he wasn’t speaking.
In the press conference following the rally, both Pence and Abbott acknowledged that Texas is experiencing a major spike in COVID-19 numbers.
“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Abbott, who on Friday again shut down bars and limited restaurant dining, a day after Texas reported a record high confirmed positive tests of 5,996.
As of Sunday, the Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting 148,728 cases in the state, with 2,393 deaths.
The number of hospitalizations in the state has reached new highs every day for the past 16 days. DSHS is reporting 5,497 patients in hospitals as of Sunday.
Pence said he “strongly recommend(s)” that people listen to local officials and obey directives aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
“Where you can’t maintain social distancing, wearing a mask is just a good idea, especially young people,” Pence said.
His direct endorsement of wearing face masks serves as a contrast with President Trump, who generally refuses to wear masks in public.
His most recent campaign events in Tulsa and Phoenix did not require those attending to wear masks or to practice social distancing.