This morning, I was one of 35 conservative leaders that Vice President Mike Pence briefed on COVID-19.
I was very encouraged by what I heard, and I think you will be too. The Vice President first reviewed the actions that President Trump has taken thus far to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.
President Trump stopped travel from China in late January and then Italy and South Korea. Even though he was advised that these were unprecedented actions, he decisively imposed them based on sound medical counsel in order to help slow the spread of the virus here in the U.S.
While the President has the authority to direct American industry to make critical supplies by the force of law, he has instead simply asked American business leaders to help. And they have done so enthusiastically and effectively.
The President has stripped away regulatory red tape that had prevented the redeployment of industrial masks for medical uses. The masks are safe and effective, but bureaucracy was keeping these resources from being redirected efficiently. Safety and common sense prevailed.
We are halfway through the 15 days designed to slow the spread. We should all be committed to doing our part for the remainder of the 15 days by continuing to follow the recommendations of the White House.
While the exact timetable remains uncertain, the Vice President emphasized that we would be getting back to business in weeks, not months.
At the meeting, there were many voices urging a proper balance between the medical concerns and the concerns for our jobs and businesses. Vice President Pence assured us that this balance was a top priority for the coronavirus task force. And I have no doubt that he and others on the task force are supportive of getting us all back to work as soon as possible.
Others asked whether we could move to an approach that quarantines the vulnerable and allows the rest of us to resume our endeavors.
Again, Vice President Pence was clear that this approach is being considered and it is a question of proper timing. Ensuring that people who regularly interact with the vulnerable treat themselves as if they have the virus is essential.
But it is clear that there is a desire to move in this direction as soon as feasible.
Finally, the Vice President emphasized that the government response is federal in nature. Local and state governments have a range of options. Solutions need to be as localized as possible.
There was no hint of a national shutdown.
I, like many of you, want to see restraint and wisdom from our top leaders in this time of crisis. And I was encouraged that this is exactly how the situation is being handled—with a balanced consideration, giving proper weight to the concerns of real life Americans.
During this time of crisis, we need to pray for these leaders, especially President Trump and Vice President Pence.
We serve a God who hears our prayers and gives wisdom and guidance to those who ask. And that is the most encouraging thing of all.
Michael P. Farris is president, CEO, and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom. He brings to the role wide recognition for his successful work on both the national and international stage.