(Headline USA) As Democrats sought to hype another spike in coronavirus cases while hoping for a last-minute moon-shot to derail President Donald Trump’s Election Day hopes, the president’s top aide rejected the idea that more shutdowns were warranted.
“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Officials on Sunday scoffed at the notion of dialing back in-person campaigning despite positive tests from several aides to Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force.
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’s ”State of the Union” that the government was focused on getting effective therapeutics and vaccines to market.
Pence, who tested negative on Sunday, according to his office, planned an afternoon rally in North Carolina, while the president held an afternoon rally in New Hampshire and visited an orchard in Levant, Maine, where he signed autographs and assured a crush of mostly unmasked supporters that a “red wave” was coming on Nov. 3.
Democrat Joe Biden attended church and planned to participate in a virtual get-out-the-vote concert at night.
Taking Meadows’ remarks out of cotext, Biden claimed in a statement that he was effectively waving “the white flag of defeat.”
As Trump noted in last week’s debate, treatment has continued to improve survival rates, and US mortality rate remains lower than the global average.
Nonetheless, Biden claimed it was “a candid acknowledgement of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis.”
In a brief exchange with reporters before the orchard visit, Trump demurred when asked if Pence should step off the campaign trail as a precaution. “You’d have to ask him,” Trump said.
Trump, campaigning in Londonderry, New Hampshire, 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 full-throttle campaigning.
Trump himself has resumed a hectic schedule since recovering from his own recent coronavirus case, and planned to campaign Monday in Pennsylvania.
Pence will campaign in Minnesota that day and return to North Carolina on Tuesday.
Despite the rising virus numbers, the White House says the U.S. economy needs to fully reopen and it has tried to counter Biden’s criticism that Trump is not doing enough to contain the worst U.S. public health crisis in more than a century.
Trump and his aides again on Sunday lashed out on Biden for saying he would be willing once again to lock down the economy rather than centering his attention on getting therapies and vaccines to market.
“We want normal life to resume,” Trump said. “We just want normal life.”
Biden also 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’ mask-wearing.
Meadows sidestepped questions about whether Vice President Mike Pence’s campaigning fit into the spirit of the CDC’s guidelines for essential work after staffers he had been in close contact with tested positive. “He’s not just campaigning, he’s working,” Meadows said.
The candidates have demonstrated remarkably different attitudes about what they see as safe behavior in the homestretch of a campaign that, as with all aspects of American life, has been upended by the pandemic.
Trump emerged from his own illness with even greater certitude that the nation has gone too far with efforts to stem the virus, and has spoken out repeatedly that children should be in school and healthy Americans should get back to normal life with limited restrictions. Biden has relied on virtual events and small, socially-distanced gatherings to make his case to voters.
“We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,” Meadows said on CNN. He added: “We are making efforts to contain it.”
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press