White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talks to reporters at the White House on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Tasos Katopodis | Getty Images News | Getty Images
“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said during an interview on CNN. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
Pressed on why the U.S. can’t make efforts to control the pandemic, Meadows 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,” Meadows said.
Meadow’s comments point to the Trump administration’s focus on a potential vaccine or therapeutic to manage Covid-19, rather than implementing national measures to help mitigate the spread of infections.
More than 224,000 people have died since the start of the pandemic and health officials urge that protocols like mask wearing could save nearly 130,000 lives.
Meadows also defended President Donald Trump‘s large campaign rallies during the pandemic, where attendees are not required to wear masks to reduce the spread of the virus: “We live in a free society,” he commented.
Trump has repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the virus, recently insisting that the country is “rounding the corner” and the virus is “going away,” even as cases surge in most states.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday unveiled a plan to address the virus that includes effectively nationalizing mask wearing, Covid-19 testing, PPE procurement, reopening guidelines and vaccine distribution.
With just nine days left until the election, the Biden and Trump camps traded barbs over Meadows comments. Biden accused the Trump administration of wishing the virus away.
“This wasn’t a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgement 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,” Biden said.
The White House accused Biden of “armchair quarterbacking” and said Meadows was pushing back on “unsustainable, impractical nationwide quarantine policies advocated by Democrats.”
Biden’s plan calls for reopening the economy by creating a national contact tracing corps, guaranteeing testing and personal protective equipment for all workers, providing additional financial support for small businesses, and helping public health authorities certify that businesses are compliant with best practices.
The U.S. reported 83,757 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, surpassing a previous daily record of about 77,300 cases in mid-July, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On Saturday, the country reported another 83,718 new cases.
As the country enters into what could be a dangerous winter, research indicates that the U.S. could see more than 500,000 total deaths by the end of February if states continue to ease pandemic restrictions.