‘We’re not go­ing to con­trol’ virus, Trump aide says

San Francisco Chronicle - - NA­TION - By Jonathan Lemire, Alexan­dra Jaffe and Aamer Mad­hani The Los An­ge­les Times con­trib­uted to this re­port. Jonathan Lemire, Alexan­dra Jaffe and Aamer Mad­hani are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

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.

Scott Eisen / Getty Im­ages

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.

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