Pence: US industry responded to coronavirus 'as never before'

Vice president tours Walmart distribution center amid pandemic

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America’s food distribution networks are still operating despite the coronavirus, even as millions of "nonessential" American employees are working from home.

Vice President Mike Pence praised the farmers, truck drivers, distribution center workers and retail workers who have kept food on Americans’ tables during an interview with FOX Business’ Charles Payne on Wednesday.

“The food supply in America is strong,” Pence said.

Vice President Mike Pence, center, talks with order picker Bin Sam, right, as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue, left, listens during a tour of a Walmart Distribution Center Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Gordonsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Pence attributed that strength to the Trump administration’s engagement of businesses during the pandemic. President Trump spoke with grocery store owners last month who pledged to keep their doors open. Officials have also turned to the private sector to boost the production of ventilators and protective gear for health care workers.

“What the president has also done is bring American industry to the table and said, ‘We need you to step up, this is all hands on deck,’” Pence said. “And American industry has responded as never before in my lifetime.”

Pence made the comments after touring a Walmart Distribution Center in Gordonsville, Virginia, on Wednesday.

Walmarts across the country are staying open as people stock up on essentials amid the pandemic. The retailer hired 50,000 new associates in less than two weeks to meet the surge in demand created by the novel coronavirus.

Since March 19, the company has added 5,000 associates each day, Walmart Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs Dan Bartlett told "FOX & Friends" Tuesday.

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Vice President Mike Pence, left, waves to workers as he tours a Walmart Distribution Center Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Gordonsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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“President Trump and I couldn’t be more proud of the way American businesses have stepped forward … Every business has said, ‘We’ll drop anything, we’ll go to work, we’ll make it happen,’” Pence said.

Still, Pence reiterated how important it is for people to stay home if they can. The Trump administration has called for social distancing practices across the country, deferring to state and local authorities on the exact level of quarantining that’s needed.

The U.S. passed 200,000 cases of the coronavirus Wednesday. More than 4,400 people in the U.S. have died from the virus. Members of the White House coronavirus task force said Tuesday that projections have shown more than 200,000 Americans dying in the pandemic despite mitigation efforts.

“We’re very confident, just as tens of millions of Americans did in the last 15 days, that we’re going to see families across all across this country put the health of America first and recognize by all of us doing all that we can, we’ll lower the number of losses and reach that part of this where we can reopen America and put America back to work,” Pence said.

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FOX Business staff contributed to this report.