Pence says no rise in U.S. coronavirus cases seen yet due to protests

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence looks on during an event with community and faith leaders at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, U.S., June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday there had been no sign yet of an increase in coronavirus cases from two weeks of nationwide protests over police misconduct and racism.

“What I can tell you is that, at this point, we don’t see an increase in new cases now, nearly two weeks on from when the first protests took effect,” Pence said in an interview on Fox Business Network.

“Many people at protests were wearing masks and engaging in some social distancing,” he said.

Protesters thronged the streets of U.S. cities and spread around the world following the May 25 death of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force that Pence chairs, has expressed concern about the protests taking place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“When you get congregations like we saw with the demonstrations, that’s taking a risk,” Fauci said Wednesday in an interview on ABC.

Fauci said on Friday the mass protests were a “perfect setup” for spreading the virus.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Tom Brown