The campaign of Democrat Joseph R. Biden accused President Trump of “waving the white flag” on the novel coronavirus after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that it would be impossible to “control the pandemic.”
Mr. Meadows’ comment came in a feisty exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper, who disapproved of Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to continue to work and campaign despite having five staffers test positive for COVID-19.
After Mr. Tapper said that the pandemic is “out of control,” Mr. Meadows pointed to the administration’s push to advance medical treatments and vaccines for the virus.
“So, here’s what we have to do. We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Mr. Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”
He was asked, “Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?”
Mr. Meadows replied, “Because this is a contagious virus. Just like the flu, it’s contagious,” adding that “we are making efforts to contain it.”
The Biden campaign released a statement afterward saying that Mr. Meadows had “stunningly admitted this morning that the administration has given up on even trying to control this pandemic.”
“This wasn’t a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has 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.”
Mr. Meadows accused former Mr. Biden of supporting lockdowns and mask mandates, and pushed by against Mr. Tapper’s suggestion that Trump supporters at rallies should be required to wear masks.
“We offer them out,” Mr. Meadows said, while adding that “we live in a free society, Jake.”
Cases of COVID-19 have surged in the past month as some K-12 and university students return to classrooms, while the number of new deaths has remained relatively flat, as shown on the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker and New York Times coronavirus map.
American Commitment president Phil Kerpen, who follows COVID-19 statistical trends closely, tweeted that Mr. Tapper “still doesn’t understand that containment is impossible after 1% prevalence?”
“Media shocked SHOCKED to learn we’re in mitigation not containment,” Mr. Kerpen said. “How is this real life?”