In an interview Wednesday with CNN, Vice President Mike Pence deflected criticism of the Trump administration for the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and instead blamed the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), along with China.

"I will be very candid with you and say that in mid-January the CDC was still assessing that the risk of the coronavirus to the American people was low. The very first case, which was someone who had been in China -- in late January around the 20th day of January," he told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. “The reality is that we could've been better off if China had been more forthcoming."

The CDC denied that Pence was trying to cast blame on the agency. 

"The CDC has been a major contributor to the Task Force and the whole-of-government response to the coronavirus outbreak. Vice President Pence has never cast blame on the CDC or any agency involved in the response efforts, and that did not change today," coronavirus task force spokesperson Devin O'Malley said. 

President Trump has been frequently criticized for his administration’s response to the virus. Trump has often downplayed the disease, comparing it to influenza. He has also suggested that citizens could even go to work if they got the virus. In addition, his administration had previously disbanded a pandemic unit on the National Security Council as well as cut more than two-thirds of the staff at a U.S. public health agency in China.

"I don't believe the President has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus," Pence said in the CNN interview. He claimed that Trump has not downplayed the virus, but was just being "optimistic."

Trump has since painted a different picture of COVID-19, calling himself a “wartime” president, who is fighting an “invisible enemy.” At times he has considered the idea of reopening the country for business, but this has been rebuked by public health experts. His administration has extended its public health guidelines for the virus through the end of the month after seeking businesses to reopen by April 12. 

As of Wednesday at 5:20 p.m. ET, there are 206,207 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with the domestic death toll at 4,633. The U.S. has more cases than any other country in the world.