Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, pushed back on CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday against claims that the new surge of coronavirus cases is a result of states reopening too quickly.

Why it matters: Public health experts, including the task force's own Anthony Fauci, largely agree that increased mobility and social contact stemming from the lifting of lockdown restrictions are driving spikes in infections.

  • Most of the states that began reopening in May did not meet the White House's guidelines for declining cases.
  • Former CDC director Tom Frieden equated states reopening while cases were still growing to "leaning into a left hook," warning on "Fox News Sunday" that the outbreaks are only going to get worse and that effects of new restrictions won't be seen for a few weeks.

Driving the news: New cases are skyrocketing in a number of states that reopened early and aggressively after initially avoiding large-scale outbreaks. Texas and Florida — two of the largest current hot spots in the U.S. — have had to pause parts of their reopening plans in a desperate effort to curb the spread of the virus.

  • Florida on Friday banned serving alcohol onsite at bars, and Texas closed bars completely and limited restaurant occupancy. Pence said he fully supports the efforts by both states' leadership.

Between the lines: Other countries that waited longer to reopen and did so more cautiously have not seen the same dramatic spike in new cases that the U.S. has experienced. Pence and President Trump have partially blamed the surge on increased testing, but health experts say that this doesn't fully explain the massive spike in cases.

What he's saying: "I know there's a temptation to associate the new cases in the Sunbelt with reopening, but it's important to remember that states like Florida and like Texas actually began to open up in early May. For the better part of six weeks, John, we did not see any significant movement," Pence said.

  • "In my conversations with governors in Florida and in Texas — and in Arizona in particular — we're monitoring very closely their hospitalization rate, and we continue to be very confident that they have the supplies and the support and the capacity to give people the ... level of care that any of us would want a family member to have."

The bottom line: As the U.S. struggles to contain the coronavirus and barrels toward disaster, Pence defended the Trump administration's response and insisted that the country is in a better place than it was four months ago.

Go deeper: The coronavirus surge is real, and it's everywhere

Go deeper

Case growth outpacing testing in coronavirus hotspots

Data: The COVID Tracking Project. Note: Vermont and Hawaii were not included because they have fewer than 20 cases per day. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't due to increased testing — particularly not where cases have grown fastest over the last month.

Why it matters: The U.S. doesn't yet know what it looks like when a pandemic rages on relatively unchecked after the health system has become overwhelmed. It may be about to find out.

Updated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Mary Trump book: How she leaked Trump financials to NYT

Simon & Schuster

In her new memoir, President Trump's niece reveals how she leaked hordes of confidential Trump family financial documents to the New York Times in an effort to expose her uncle, whom she portrays as a dangerous sociopath.

Why it matters: Trump was furious when he found out recently that Mary Trump, a trained psychologist, would be publishing a tell-all memoir. And Trump's younger brother, Robert, tried and failed to block the publication of "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man."

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 11,691,068 — Total deaths: 540,062 — Total recoveries — 6,349,542Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 2,963,244 — Total deaths: 130,813 — Total recoveries: 924,148 — Total tested: 36,225,015Map.
  3. 2020: Biden releases plan to strengthen coronavirus supply chain.
  4. Congress: Trump administration notifies Congress of intent to withdraw from WHO.
  5. Public health: Fauci says it's a "false narrative" to take comfort in lower coronavirus death rate.
  6. World: Brazil's President Bolsonaro tests positive— India reports third-highest case count in the world.