‘We’re not going to control’ virus, Trump aide says
LONDONDERRY, N.H. — The coronavirus has reached into the heart of the White House once more, little more than a week before election day, 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 inperson campaigning despite positive tests from five 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 that the government is instead focused on getting effective therapeutics and vaccines out.
Pence, whose office said he tested negative Sunday, held an afternoon rally in North Carolina, while the president campaigned in New Hampshire and Maine. Democrat Joe Biden attended church and planned to participate in a virtual getoutthevote concert
Sunday night. He said in a statement that Meadows is effectively waving “the white flag of defeat.”
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 Pence’s decision to keep up inperson campaigning was flouting common sense.
“If Pence did not selfquarantine, it would violate every core public health principle his own task force recommends,” said Lawrence Gostin, a 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 coronavirus infections and nearly matched it Saturday with 83,178, data published by Johns Hopkins University shows. More than 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, 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 fullthrottle campaigning. Trump himself has resumed a hectic schedule since recovering from his own recent coronavirus case, and planned to appear with Pence at a rally Monday in Pennsylvania.
Trump and his aides again lashed out Sunday against Biden, falsely asserting that the Democrat was determined to lock down the economy, while the president is centering his attention on getting therapies and vaccines to the public.
“We want normal life to resume,” Trump said. “We just want normal life.”
Biden, in fact, has said he would only shut down the country if that is what government scientists advise. He has said that if elected he would make the case for why a national mask mandate might be necessary and would go to the governors to help increase Americans’ maskwearing.
Pence’s office says there are no plans to curtail campaigning. In addition to chief of staff Marc Short, who tested positive Saturday, four other aides also have contracted the disease. The White House says Pence was considered in “close contact” with Short under CDC guidelines. The guidelines require that essential workers exposed to someone with the coronavirus closely monitor for symptoms of COVID19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.
Meadows sidestepped questions about whether Pence’s campaigning fit into the spirit of the CDC’S guidelines for essential work. “He’s not just campaigning, he’s working,” Meadows said.
A supporter of President Trump joins a campaign rally in Londonderry, N.H. Trump has resumed a hectic schedule since recovering from his recent coronavirus infection.