Vice President Mike Pence, who was recently tapped by President Donald Trump to lead the administration’s coronavirus response, cited his largely panned handling of a 2015 HIV outbreak in Indiana as one of his main qualifications heading up the effort to combat a potential pandemic. During an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday, the former Indiana governor gave an extremely positive spin to his reluctance at the time to agree to needle exchanges to stem the outbreak.
“We worked the problem early in the year from a law enforcement standpoint, from a health standpoint,” Pence declared. “I don’t believe in needle exchanges as a way to combat drug abuse, but in this case we came to the conclusion that we had a public health emergency, and so I took executive action to make a limited needle exchange available.”
He went on to take credit for Indiana changing the state law on needle exchanges based on his actions, adding that his delayed executive action “was a moment where we had brought all of the resources to bear.” Experts have since said the outbreak would have been “entirely preventable” if Pence had acted earlier.