Trump aide Mark Meadows says pandemic won't be controlled until vaccine is available

World | 26 Oct 2020 12:49 pm

The coronavirus has reached the upper echelons of the White House again, with an outbreak among aides to Vice President Mike Pence just over a week from Election Day.

A top White House official declared: “We’re not going to control the pandemic.”

Officials on Sunday also scoffed at the notion of Pence dialing back in-person campaigning despite positive tests among several people in his office. Pence, who leads the White House’s coronavirus task force, was back out on the road Sunday and has an aggressive travel schedule planned for the final days of the campaign.

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’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, held a rain-soaked early evening rally in Kinston, North Carolina, a state that Trump won in 2016 and is crucial to his reelection hopes.

The vice president had a shout-out for supporters who braved what he called “this night of tempest, to stand in the rain and stand firm” for Trump. He gave no nod to the coronavirus infection rippling through his staff, and dismissed Democrat Joe Biden’s description of the virus threat as an unwarranted dose of gloom and doom.

The president, for his part, rallied backers 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. He and first lady Melania Trump wrapped up the busy weekend by hosting costumed children for a socially distanced Halloween trick-or-treating on the White House grounds.

Biden attended church and participated in a virtual get-out-the-vote concert. He said in a statement that Meadows was effectively waving “the white flag of defeat” and “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.-AP

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