White House Chief of Staff: “We are not going to control the pandemic”

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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday that the United States “will not control” the coronavirus pandemic, as cases rise across the country and nearly 225,000 Americans have died from the virus.

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

Comments by President Donald Trump’s chief of staff come as coronavirus cases pour into the United States and the administration continues to ignore advice from government health experts to wear masks, push society away and avoiding large gatherings in order to curb the spread of the virus. The White House is also facing a second potential outbreak of the virus after at least five people from Pence’s inner circle have tested positive in recent days, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Pressed by Tapper on why the United States is not going to bring the pandemic under control, Meadows said, “Because it’s a contagious virus, just like the flu. He added that the Trump administration was “making efforts to contain it.”

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

The United States 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 United States, and at least 224,800 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Pence to keep campaigning

But as concerns grow that more people surrounding the vice president may test positive in the coming days, Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, is currently not planning to self-quarantine, in defiance of the American Centers for Disease Control. and prevention guidelines, and will continue to campaign in the run-up to elections.

Vice President Marc Short’s chief of staff, close aide Zach Bauer and outside adviser Marty Obst were among those in the vice president’s orbit who tested positive, sources told CNN. Bauer – one of the staff who tested positive, according to two sources familiar with the matter – serves as Pence’s ‘body man’, which means his job is to accompany Pence throughout the day and of the night by helping him in a wide range of tasks, putting him in close proximity to the vice president. A source familiar with the matter told CNN that Bauer had not been in the office since Tuesday, when he returned home in quarantine after coming into contact with Obst. Bauer tested positive on Saturday.

The vice president and second lady Karen Pence each tested negative for coronavirus on Sunday, a White House official said.

“I spoke to the vice president last night at midnight and I can tell you that what he does is wear a mask, socialize and when he goes up to talk he will take the mask off and put it back on. Meadows said. “He wears a mask in relation to this particular thing because the doctors advised him to do so. ”

Meadows also declined to disclose the extent of the Pence Orbit COVID-19 outbreak, saying the administration does not share personal information and such disclosures were only appropriate in the case of the president, vice-president or those around them.

“Whenever there is someone in danger, we have an obligation to let people know for the search for contracts,” he said.

Meadows argued that Pence would continue with his travel plans because he is “essential staff”.

“I’m not saying he’s not campaigning, I’m saying it’s only part of what he does and we’re looking at that, ‘essential staff’, whether it’s the vice president of US or someone else has to continue, ”he said.

Pence, who is known to rarely wear a mask while flying on Air Force Two, flew to Florida on Saturday for campaign rallies in Lakeland and Tallahassee. The Vice President walked across the tarmac at Marine Two in a mask and boarded Air Force Two about an hour late.

Pence walked out of Air Force Two in Florida without a mask, descending the steps and running across the tarmac, fist pumping as he approached the podium.

An official told CNN’s Kevin Liptak on Sunday that Pence is expected to campaign every day until election day and that those plans remain in place for now.

After visiting North Carolina later Sunday, the vice president travels to Minnesota on Monday and returns to North and South Carolina on Tuesday. He is also expected to return to the upper Midwest this week. The official said Pence will continue to be tested but, like Trump, still plans to be on the road every day for the next week.

‘They admit their defeat’

California Senator Kamala Harris, Democratic vice presidential candidate, said Sunday that Pence “should follow the guidelines” when asked about his decision to continue campaigning despite news of the positive tests. ” We are doing it. I think what we’ve modeled (is) the right and the right behavior, and they’re just taking our lead. ”

Harris canceled the trip a week ago “out of caution” after two people in his orbit tested positive for the virus.

Harris, speaking shortly after arriving in Detroit, said Meadows’ comments to Tapper on Sunday show the Trump administration “admitting defeat.”

“We are breaking records for the number of people who contract a deadly virus, and this administration does not take personal responsibility or responsibility in terms of leading the nation through this dangerous, dangerous and deadly event,” he said. she says. “And that’s why they gave up their right to a second term. ”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden echoed the sentiment in a statement later Sunday, saying Meadows “admitted this morning that the administration has given up even trying to control this pandemic, which it has given up. to its fundamental duty to protect the American people. . ”

“It is high time that President Trump and his administration listened to scientists, acted, and finally took seriously the threat of a virus that claims thousands of lives every week, closing our schools and forcing millions of Americans out of work, “Said Biden.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune told reporters later today that “we are all in control” of the virus and stressed that leaders have a responsibility to take action to slow the spread.

“I don’t know exactly what he meant by that statement. I think we have some control, ”the South Dakota Republican said in response to Sunday’s comments from Meadows. “We are all in control, and we all have a responsibility as leaders to lead by example in doing what it takes to stop the spread. It is to encourage the wearing of a mask and encourage social distancing. ”

“We all know it stops the spread,” he continued. “Science proves it. “

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