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Vice President Mike Pence appears in a pre-taped interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington, D.C. Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC

President Trump would "respect any decisions that are made at the state and local level" on actions to combat the novel coronavirus, including school shutdowns, Vice President Mike Pence told NBC in an interview airing Sunday.

Why it matters: COVID-19 is a major challenge for the Trump administration, with 66 infections and one death from the virus in the U.S., per a CDC statement Saturday. A poor response could be "politically devastating" for them, Axios' Alayna Treene and Sam Baker note.

The big picture: The president has appointed Pence to lead the Trump administration's COVID-19 task force.

What he's saying: CNN is also airing an interview with Pence on Sunday's "State of the Union" in which the vice president tells journalist Jake Tapper, "We know there will be more cases." He also admitted it "is possible" that more Americans could die from the virus. But he said health officials had made clear that "most people that contract the coronavirus, they will recover."

  • During his interview with NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet The Press," Pence acknowledged there had been "some downturns this week" in the stock market because of concerns about the virus. But he added, "[I]t will come back. But our focus is going to remain on the health and well-being of the American people."
  • "What the president has told us to do on the task force, what he did when he initiated the suspension of all travel from China, the quarantining effort, is we’re leaning into this effort," Pence told Todd in the interview, recorded Saturday.
"It’s all hands on deck. Because our effort here is to do everything possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the United States."
— Mike Pence on "Meet the Press"

Go deeper: What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the interviews and further context.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

5 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.