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.”
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.
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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.
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
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.
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)
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
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
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite his exposure to a top aide who tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said Saturday.
Pence himself tested negative, his office said. Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, the vice president is considered a “close contact” of his chief of staff, Marc Short, but will not quarantine, said spokesman Devin O’Malley.Read More