Trump’s top aide admits US can’t control Covid pandemic, Biden says govt waving white flag
Washington, Oct 26: Donald Trump's top aide has conceded that the US is "not going to control" the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing sharp criticism from the president's Democratic rival Joe Biden that the Trump administration has waived "the white flag of defeat" against the deadly virus.
The raging coronavirus outbreak has become a key issue in the November 3 presidential election between Trump, a Republican, and Biden, a former US vice president.
"We are not going to control the pandemic," White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, arguing that "proper mitigation factors" like therapies and vaccines should be the priority.
Meadows said control of the virus was not a realistic goal because "it is a contagious virus just like the flu."
About 225,000 Americans have died since the pandemic began, the highest figure of any country. The US has also reported over 8,638,000 positive cases.
The US recorded 83,718 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University, just short of the record 83,757 reported on Friday. Previously, the highest number of reported infections in a single day was 77,362 on July 16.
Biden said that Trump's chief of staff's stunning statement showed that the White House was waving "the white flag of defeat" and that the Trump administration had "given up on their basic duty to protect the American people".
"This wasn't a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgment 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," the former US vice president said while reacting to the statement of Meadows.
Trump, who aggressively campaigned in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin on Saturday, is expected to appear at two rallies in Pennsylvania on Monday, before making his way to Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska on Tuesday.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence - the head of the coronavirus task force - have consistently refused to model the social distancing and mask wearing that is the most effective way to cut infections until treatments and vaccines arrive.
Pence has continued campaigning despite being in close contact with Marc Short, his chief of staff, who has tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
Pence and his wife both tested negative on Sunday, his office said.
US media reports say Pence adviser Marty Obst and at least two other members of staff have also recently tested positive.
The growing cases have raised fresh questions about the White House's COVID-19 protocol, three weeks after President Trump was admitted to a leading military hospital with the virus before making a quick recovery.
Addressing supporters in New Hampshire on Sunday, President Trump repeated his claim that the US was turning a corner with the pandemic.
"We're coming around, we're rounding the turn, we have the vaccines, we have everything. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn," he told supporters, many of them not wearing face masks or observing social distancing.