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Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence described a world in which he and President Trump led Americans' heroic effort to defeat the coronavirus during last night's vice presidential debate. The problem is, he described a world that doesn't exist.

Why it matters: The coronavirus is very much not in control in the U.S., and America's failed response begins with the individual actions of the president and the vice president themselves.

  • Instead of defending the administration's decisions and behaviors, Pence acted as if they never happened.

What Pence said: Trump's decision to shut down travel from China "bought us invaluable time to stand up the greatest national mobilization since World War II, and I believe it saved hundreds of thousands of American lives."

  • Reality check: The administration botched the initial response to the pandemic, producing a faulty diagnostic test and failing to stop the virus from taking hold across the U.S.
  • Despite the travel ban, the virus clearly found its way into the country.

Pence: "The reality is, when you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I and our task force have been doing every step of the way."

Pence: "When you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn't worked, that's a great disservice to the sacrifices that the American people have made."

  • Reality check: The virus has brutalized vulnerable populations, including the elderly, the poor and people of color, who have been left largely unprotected by the federal government.

Pence, on the Rose Garden event that is suspected of becoming a super spreader event: "Many of the people who were at that event ... actually were tested for coronavirus, and it was an outdoor event."

  • Reality check: Most attendees were maskless and weren't maintaining distance between one another. And the number of infected attendees speaks for itself.

Go deeper

Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy

Alex Azar. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool via Getty

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a resignation letter delivered to President Trump this week that the "actions and rhetoric" after the election and especially during last week's siege on the Capitol "threaten to tarnish" the outgoing administration's legacy, Axios confirmed Friday.

Between the lines: Azar is leaving the same day President-elect Joe Biden takes office, so his resignation effectively changes nothing. But he joins a list of other top Trump aides and officials who have condemned the president after last week's deadly riot.

Jan 16, 2021 - Health

CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic

Robert Redfield. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Outgoing CDC director Robert Redfield told NPR on Friday that he was proud of the agency's response to the coronavirus pandemic and that he disagreed with his incoming successor's conclusion that the "gold standard for the nation's public health — has been tarnished."

Why it matters: The CDC has faced sharp criticism throughout its nearly year-long response to the coronavirus pandemic over several issues, including some of its messaging and guidance, which has been described as inconsistent and confusing.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker