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White House Official Says ‘We’re Not Going to Control’ COVID-19 as Critics Say Trump ‘Surrendered’

Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in two recent interviews that “we’re not going to control” COVID-19, which led Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and other critics to say President Donald Trump’s administration is giving up on fighting the pandemic.

“We’re going to defeat the virus; we’re not going to control it,” Meadows, 61, told reporters Monday morning, as cases and deaths hit new surges across the U.S. in recent days.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has killed more than 225,000 people across the country so far, according to a New York Times tracker.

“We will try to contain it as best we can,” Meadows said, adding the White House is instead focusing on therapeutics and finding a vaccine.

Biden, 77, said Meadows’ remark was “an acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t,” the Times reported.

Shutterstock White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows

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Biden’s condemnation of the White House’s efforts—or lack thereof—to limit the spread of COVID-19 came after Meadows initially made a similar comment Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic, we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other medications,” Meadows told CNN anchor Jake Tapper.

Looking perplexed, Tapper, 51, responded: “Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?”

“Because it’s a contagious virus, just like the flu,” Meadows said, despite federal health officials having long warned the novel coronavirus is not like the flu and spreads more rapidly, and dangerously, without proper containment efforts. (COVID-19 has killed more people in the U.S. than the last five flu seasons combined.)

“But why not make efforts to contain it?” Tapper asked again, before they began arguing.

Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters on Monday

RELATED: Four of Vice President Mike Pence’s Aides, Including His Chief of Staff, Test Positive for COVID-19

Meadows’ comments during the CNN interview led to a wave of backlash, as the U.S. now has had more than 8.7 million reported COVID-19 cases—the most in the world.

“The Trump administration would rather let tens of thousands of Americans unnecessarily die than listen to scientists and create a national plan,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, a former Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted.

Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, told reporters on Sunday that Meadows’ statement signaled the Trump administration was “admitting defeat,” while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told NBC New York: “They surrendered without firing a shot.”

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images Donald Trump speaks at the White House on October 10 while recovering from COVID-19

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“We’re not going to control the pandemic”

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump walks out of White House on October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump plans to head to three campaign rallies in Pennsylvania this afternoon. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

This article originally appeared here on Salon.com

President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made an astonishing admission on Sunday, telling CNN that the White House has given up on trying to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Notably, a fresh outbreak within the administration recently infected at least five advisers to Vice President Mike Pence.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running against Trump in the upcoming election, responded to Meadows’ comment by saying, “This wasn’t a slip by Meadows; it was a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t.”

Meadows’ remarks are particularly ironic because Pence chairs the White House’s coronavirus task force, and his performance in that role was implicitly praised by Trump when he told a rally on Sunday that America is “rounding the turn” when it comes to addressing the pandemic.

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While Meadows’ words imply that their hope rests in mitigation and vaccines, such pharmaceutical products are quite time- and labor-intensive to produce, and no safe vaccines are near ready. There are at least three distinct phases in which vaccines are slowly rolled out, each of which is intended to make sure that the drug is safe and effective for a diverse range of people based on their age, race, sex and other demographic factors. Skipping those phases, as some foreign institutions and governments have in order to speed production, can create deadly problems.

Meadows’ words also belie the Trump administration’s lack of trust in  public health official and initiatives since the onset of the pandemic, a mistrust that has worsened its spread in the United States compared to other countries. In addition to slashing or eliminating programs that would have focused on preventing or controlling the disease prior to the outbreak, Trump downplayed the disease’s significance in February despite admitting at that time that he knew how dangerous it was. 

The president has also repeatedly denigrated the importance of wearing a mask, even though the scientific consensus is that wearing a mask in public helps both protect the wearer from infection and ensure that the wearer will not infect others. “It’s a horrible message,” American University political science professor Dr. Allan Lichtman explained to Salon in July. “It shows he doesn’t care about the health of his constituents. He cares more about his own image than he does about keeping the people around him safe.”

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‘We’re not going to control it’

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday rejected Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s assertion that the Trump administration was waving a white flag in its fight against the coronavirus — but nevertheless doubled down on his controversial acknowledgment that the United States would not “control” the pandemic.



Mark Meadows wearing a suit and tie: White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House on Oct. 26.


© Patrick Semansky/AP Photo
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House on Oct. 26.

“The only person waving a white flag, along with his white mask, is Joe Biden,” a maskless Meadows told reporters outside the White House on Monday morning. “I mean, when we look at this, we’re going to defeat the virus. We’re not going to control it. We will try to contain it as best we can.”

Meadows went on to defend remarks he made on Sunday in an interview with CNN, where he said the U.S. was “not going to control the pandemic,” but would instead “control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”

The concession from President Donald Trump’s top aide — which came shortly after news of another White House coronavirus outbreak among the staff of Vice President Mike Pence — was quickly criticized by congressional Democrats and some Republicans, as well as Biden’s campaign.

“This wasn’t a slip by Meadows,” Biden said in a statement on Sunday. “It was a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t.”

Meadows insisted on Monday that the “full context” of his remarks referred to the “need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines” to treat Covid-19. He also said that administration officials were “very hopeful, based on a number of conversations, that vaccines are just a few weeks away, and we’re in preparation for that.”

But public health experts warn that a coronavirus vaccine likely will not be widely accessible until the second half of 2021. And even if a vaccine is authorized on a narrow basis for a subset of health care workers and the vulnerable, several leading candidates require two doses that would be administered weeks apart.

The late-stage phase three clinical trials for potential coronavirus vaccines enroll tens of thousands of participants and take months to complete. The first few candidates are not expected to file for emergency use until late November at the earliest.

David Lim and Sarah Owermohle contributed to this report.

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‘We’re not going to control pandemic’: Trump aide

Donald Trump’s chief of staff said Sunday that “we’re not going to control the pandemic,” drawing a rebuke from the Biden campaign that “they are admitting defeat.”

Chief of staff Mark Meadows was speaking amid a sharp resurgence of the coronavirus across the US, with case numbers setting daily records and the death toll fast approaching 225,000.

When a CNN interviewer asked Meadows why the administration would not get control of the virus, he replied, “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

He then qualified that, saying, “We are making efforts to contain it.”

Democrat Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris was asked during a campaign stop in Michigan about Meadows’ comments and said, “They are admitting defeat, and I’ve been saying that, and Joe Biden has been saying that since the beginning.”

She criticized Meadows for likening the coronavirus to the flu, according to a pool report.

“This is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of America,” she said.

Biden and Harris have been hammering Trump over his handling of the pandemic, which has seen the US suffer roughly one-fifth the world death total though its population is only four percent the total.

The disease has reached deep inside the White House itself. 

Three weeks after Trump was hospitalized with Covid-19, a spokesman announced Saturday that Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, had tested positive — but added that Pence would nonetheless continue criss-crossing the country in the final days of the campaign.

CNN interviewer Jake Tapper pressed Meadows about Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, seemingly flaunting guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control by traveling and not self-quarantining after exposure to Short.

“I can tell you he is wearing a mask and will be wearing a mask today,” Meadows said. “Obviously, when you have an exposure you have to take additional mitigation factors.”

Harris stayed off the campaign trail briefly after a top aide tested positive. 

Meantime, even as Biden regularly wears masks and holds small, socially distanced rallies, Trump will continue to hold much larger events with no mask requirement, Meadows said.

“We don’t mandate masks,” he said. “We offer them out. We live in a free society.”

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Trump aide admits ‘we’re not going to control pandemic’ as Pence staff test positive

Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff made an unusually candid admission on Sunday – that the administration does not intend to contain the coronavirus crisis.



a man wearing a suit and tie holding a umbrella: Photograph: Yuri Gripas/EPA


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Photograph: Yuri Gripas/EPA

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“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Mark Meadows said, bluntly.

The former hard-right congressman from North Carolina made the revealing remark as confirmed cases of Covid-19 reached new peaks and hospitalisations rose rapidly in 38 states. The contagion also continues to ravage the White House itself, with the chief of staff to Mike Pence and four others in the vice-president’s inner circle having tested positive.



a man wearing a suit and tie holding a umbrella: Mark Meadows offers a thumbs up to members of the media outside the White House.


© Photograph: Yuri Gripas/EPA
Mark Meadows offers a thumbs up to members of the media outside the White House.

Meadows repeatedly sidestepped questions about the administration’s responsibility for combatting spread of the virus. Instead, in a contentious interview with CNN’s State of the Union, he highlighted what he called “mitigating” factors, including the search for a vaccine and new therapeutics that could bring down the death rate.

Even so, the number of deaths in the US is back up at about 1,000 a day.

Asked why the administration was not going to control the pandemic, Meadows replied: “Because it is a contagious virus.”

Turn on the television, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid. On 4 November you won’t hear about it anymore

Donald Trump

Despite Pence being exposed to the disease, he planned to continue an aggressive campaign schedule in the final nine days of the race. Pence spoke at a rally in Kinston, North Carolina, on Sunday, where he did not address the positive cases in his entourage. He will be in Hibbing, Minnesota, on Monday before returning to events in North Carolina on Tuesday.

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Such unbroken travel plans amounted to a breach of the recommendations of the Trump administration’s own public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They would require the vice-president to be in quarantine for 14 days and always to wear a mask around other people. Pence has frequently been seen maskless in public.

Such blatant disregard for the administration’s own health standards is doubly awkward given that Pence has led the White House coronavirus taskforce since late February. Dr Anthony Fauci, the most senior public health expert on the taskforce, said on Friday meetings had dwindled and Trump had not attended one in months.

Video: Trump claims coronavirus vaccine will be ready in ‘weeks’ (FOX News)

Trump claims coronavirus vaccine will be ready in ‘weeks’

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The White House said Pence was not required to follow the quarantine rule because he is deemed “essential personnel”. Asked why electioneering was classed “essential”, Meadows said the vice president continued to do his official work in between campaign stops.

Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University in Virginia, called Pence’s decision to travel “grossly negligent”.

“It’s just an insult to everybody who

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White House chief of staff says Trump administration is ‘not going to control the pandemic’

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday said the Trump administration is “not going to control the pandemic,” and will instead “control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigations.”

Meadows made his comments during an interview on CNN, and when asked to elaborate on why the pandemic can’t be contained, he said, “because it is a contagious virus just like the flu. What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this.”

On Friday and Saturday, the U.S. reported more than 83,000 new coronavirus cases, and as of Sunday, more than 224,000 Americans have died of the virus. Despite health officials warning against large gatherings and urging the use of masks to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Trump continues to hold big campaign rallies, with people standing next to each other and face coverings optional. Meadows defended the campaign events by saying, “We live in a free society.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden commented on Meadows’ remarks, saying this wasn’t “a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t.”

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White House Chief of Staff Says ‘We’re Not Going to Control the Pandemic’ as COVID-19 Cases Surge

The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said the U.S. won’t be able to contain COVID-19 as new cases continue to hit record highs.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.” When asked why the U.S. can’t attempt to curb the virus, Meadows said, “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Instead, Meadows said that “what we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this.”

Meadows’ remarks fall in line with the Trump administration’s lack of a plan for containing the virus, like say, implementing national guidelines to control the infection rate. Over 224,000 Americans have died since the pandemic’s outset, with health officials encouraging the public to continue wearing masks, as they could save almost 130,000 lives in the coming months.

During his CNN interview, which was received online with a combination of shock and outrage, Meadows also defended the large campaign rallies that Trump has continued to host as the election nears, where masks and social distancing measures aren’t enforced. “We live in a free society,” Meadows said after Tapper pushed him on the rallies.

The U.S. reported 83,757 new confirmed cases on Friday, eclipsing the previous daily record of 77,300 in mid-July. On Saturday, the country reported an additional 83,718 cases. As CNBC points out, research suggests that the U.S. could see over 500,000 total deaths by the end of February if states don’t intensify pandemic limitations.

Meadow’s interview inspired a visceral action online and beyond, with Joe Biden slamming the Trump administration for its failure to safeguard the U.S. “Mark Meadows stunningly admitted this morning that the administration has given up on even trying to control this pandemic, that they’ve given up on their basic duty to protect the American people,” the former vice president said in a statement.

Biden wasn’t the only one who chimed in. Check out reactions to Meadows’ interview below.  

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Trump aide says ‘we’re not going to control the pandemic’

LONDONDERRY, N.H. (AP) — The coronavirus has reached into the heart of the White House once more, little more than a week before Election Day, as it scorches the nation and the president’s top aide says “we’re not going to control the pandemic.” Officials on Sunday scoffed at the notion of dialing back in-person campaigning despite positive tests from several aides to Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, pressed to explain why the pandemic cannot be reined in, said, “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.” He told CNN’s ”State of the Union” that the government was focused on getting effective therapeutics and vaccines to market.

Pence, who tested negative on Sunday, according to his office, planned an afternoon rally in North Carolina, while the president held an afternoon rally in New Hampshire and visited an orchard in Levant, Maine, where he signed autographs and assured a crush of mostly unmasked supporters that a “red wave” was coming on Nov. 3.

Democrat Joe Biden attended church and planned to participate in a virtual get-out-the-vote concert at night. He said in a statement that Meadows was effectively waving “the white flag of defeat” and “a candid acknowledgement of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis.”

In a brief exchange with reporters before the orchard visit, Trump demurred when asked if Pence should step off the campaign trail as a precaution. “You’d have to ask him,” Trump said.

The White House said none of the staff traveling with Trump on Sunday had been in close contact with any individuals in the vice president’s office who had tested positive. But public health experts said that Pence’s decision to keep up in-person campaigning was flouting common sense.

“If Pence did not self-quarantine it would violate every core public health principle his own task force recommends,” said Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University school of law. “It’s one standard for the vice president and another for all the rest of us.”

The U.S. set a daily record Friday for new confirmed coronavirus infections and nearly matched it Saturday with 83,178, data published by Johns Hopkins University shows. Close to 8.6 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and about 225,000 have died; both totals are the world’s highest. About half the states have seen their highest daily infection numbers so far at some point in October.

Trump, campaigning in Londonderry, New Hampshire, said the rising rate of infections was nothing to be concerned about. ”You know why we have cases so much?”′ Trump asked a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. “Because all we do is test.”

Entering the final full week before the Nov. 3 election, it’s clear the Trump team remains committed to full-throttle campaigning. Trump himself has resumed a hectic schedule since recovering from his own recent coronavirus case, and planned to appear with Pence at

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‘We are not going to control the pandemic’

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the US is “not going to control” the coronavirus pandemic, as cases surge across the country and nearly 225,000 Americans have died from the virus.



Mark Meadows wearing a suit and tie: UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 12: Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, tells the media he wont speak through his mask after being asked to put it on, during a break in the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Monday, October 12, 2020. The hearing was being held in Hart Senate Office Building. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)


© Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag
UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 12: Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, tells the media he wont speak through his mask after being asked to put it on, during a break in the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Monday, October 12, 2020. The hearing was being held in Hart Senate Office Building. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,” Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

The comments from President Donald Trump’s chief of staff come as coronavirus cases surge across the US and the administration continues to consistently disregard advice from government health experts to wear masks, social distance and avoid large gatherings as a way to curb the spread of the virus. The White House is also facing a potential second outbreak of the virus after at least five people in Pence’s inner circle have tested positive in recent days, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Pressed by Tapper on why the US isn’t going to get the pandemic under control, Meadows said: “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.” He added that the Trump administration is “making efforts to contain it.”

“What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this,” Meadows said.

The US reported its second-highest day of new cases on Saturday, with nearly 84,000 Americans contracting the deadly virus. As of Sunday, there were at least 8,575,000 total cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 224,800 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Pence to continue campaigning

But as concerns grow that more people surrounding the vice president could test positive in the coming days, Pence, who is the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, does not currently plan to self-quarantine, in defiance of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and will continue campaigning as the election nears.

Vice presidential chief of staff Marc Short, close aide Zach Bauer and outside adviser Marty Obst were among those within the vice president’s orbit who have tested positive, sources told CNN. Bauer — one of the staffers who tested positive earlier this week, according to two sources familiar with the matter — serves as Pence’s “body man,” meaning his job is to accompany Pence throughout the day and night helping him with a wide range of duties, putting him in close proximity to the vice president.

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Meadows says ‘we’re not going to control the pandemic’ in heated interview

As coronavirus cases spike across the country, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said in a heated interview Sunday that the administration won’t be able to “control the pandemic.”

Speaking with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Meadows was pressed on the administration’s attitude toward Covid-19 as cases reached a record high this weekend, hospitalizations climb, and more than 225,000 people have died. He was also pushed about Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to continue campaigning even after four of his aides tested positive for the virus.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic, we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations,” Meadows said, adding “it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Trump has long compared Covid-19 to the flu, which experts have resoundingly rejected as both inaccurate and “morally reprehensible.”

Meadows later told CNN that the administration is “making efforts to contain” coronavirus but that what is important is “to make sure people don’t die from this.”

“When we look at the number of cases increasing what we have to do is make sure we fight it with therapeutics and vaccines, take proper mitigation factors in terms of social distancing and masks when we can,” Meadows said. “And when we look at this, we’re going to defeat it because we’re Americans.”

He defended Pence’s decision to stay on the trail, saying the vice president is “essential personnel” so he doesn’t need to quarantine.

The president, who also contracted the virus earlier this month along with first lady Melania Trump and more than 20 others close to him, has continued to say the U.S. is “rounding the corner” in the pandemic, even though key statistics are on the rise.

Meadows was also pressed on the lack of mask-wearing at the president’s rallies, where attendees are frequently seen tightly packed together without face coverings.

“We don’t mandate masks because we offer them out,” Meadows said. “We live in a free society.”

After host Jake Tapper pushed back, Meadows responded, “You’re not wearing one right now, Jake.”

“There’s literally nobody in this room,” Tapper responded. “There is literally not one person in this studio.”

The exchange was emblematic of the contentious nature of the interview, where both men shouted over each other at different points.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., criticized Meadows later on Sunday.

“They are admitting defeat,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee told reporters in Detroit. “This is the greatest failure of any Presidential administration in the history of America … again they’re suggesting to the American people that this is like the flu when we have known from the beginning and they have known since January, that it’s five times more deadly than the flu.”

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