VP Pence makes visit to Madison

Lauds efforts of GE Healthcare workers; talks coronavirus fight in one-on-one interview with News 3 Now

MADISON, Wis. — Even in these extraordinary times, it wasn’t a typical day for the roughly 550 workers who are employed at GE Healthcare on Madison’s east side.

Vice President Mike Pence made a visit to the facility, thanking workers for their efforts to ramp up production at the facility in recent months.

The facility is the only GE facility in the country that manufactures ventilators, and says it has doubled production since the start of the pandemic, and plans to double it again by the end of June.

The Vice President toured the facility, meeting individually with workers about how the ventilators work, often remarking about their ability to increase production in such a short time frame.

“Even before the coronavirus epidemic had impacted our country in a significant way, this company, these workers were already stepping up,” said Pence in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview with News 3 Now, “to double production of ventilators, those are those life-saving machines that were so vitally important for those people who are struggling with the most severe elements of the coronavirus.”

Pence assured those on hand, that due to the efforts of GE Healthcare workers and other companies instructed to make the machines under the President’s implementation of the Defense Production Act, “no one who has required a ventilator in America has been denied a ventilator in America.”

Currently Madison healthcare providers are not experiencing a shortage of ventilators, and remain hopeful that a surge of Covid-19 cases won’t create a shortage in the future. Where healthcare providers are more concerned, is with the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and numerous elements that make up the testing kits that are essential for them to get a grasp on the virus as it continues to impact communities across the United States.

Pence says he will continue to work with governors across the country to make sure that healthcare providers have the equipment they need to track and treat the illness. As he said on the national interview circuit over the weekend, the Vice President highlighted the administration’s efforts to provide supplies for 150,000 tests a day nationwide, compared to just 80,000 conducted total a month ago at this time.

“We’re going to continue to scale that amount and bring new tests online,” said Pence, “we’re confident we have a sufficient for amount of testing for every state to enter phase one.”

Phase one testing is for anyone who shows symptoms of coronavirus, but also for those in nursing homes, long term care and other vulnerable communities.

The Vice President’s visit came on the same day that Republican legislative leaders filed suit against Governor Tony Evers, challenging his decision to extend the state’s Safer At Home” order until May 26th. The governor has said he has based his plan on guidelines given to him by the federal government. When asked, the Vice President declined to answer if Governor Evers’ decision was too late, but did say the White House will continue to work with state leaders to determine an appropriate time to reopen the economy.

“And we’re going to continue to work with (Governor Evers) and other governors around the country,” says Pence, “to provide the data to provide the information as we track the progress to do that, as soon as it’s possible.”

Moving forward, the Vice President he says his task force is already addressing is the possibility of a recurrence of the pandemic in the fall, as the flu season returns in the United States.

We just know we will be at a much better place to be able to deal with the coronavirus,” says Pence, “and our objective is to reopen Wisconsin and America as soon as we responsibly can. But we want to keep America open, and keep America working.”