In a raising-the-white-flag-of-surrender moment, the White House Chief of Staff admitted on Sunday that Trump’s administration cannot “control the pandemic.”
When pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper and asked why not try, Meadows compared Covid-19 to the flu. The problem with that comparison is that the mortality rate of the coronavirus stands at around 1 percent, 10 times higher than the average for the seasonal flu.
Meadows: We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.
Tapper: Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?
Meadows: Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.
Tapper: But why not make efforts to contain it?
Meadows: Well we are making efforts to contain it.
Tapper: By running all over the country and not wearing a mask? That’s what the vice president is doing.
Meadows: Let me just say this. What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don’t die from this. But to suggest that we are going to actually quarantine all of America.
Tapper: No one’s saying that.
Mark Meadows: “We’re not going to control the pandemic, we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
Jake Tapper: “Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?”
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) October 25, 2020
The host asked if there would be any changes to Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign schedule following news that at least four members of his staff have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past few days.
Meadows said Pence will remain on the campaign trail, saying that because the vice president is considered “essential personnel,” he doesn’t need to quarantine. Tapper was baffled by the excuse and asked Meadows to make sense of it.
Tapper: So, CDC guidelines say that Vice President Pence should be quarantined for 14 days. Now, I understand the White House is trying to get around that by saying the vice president is an essential worker. But, Mark, how is going all over the country? How is that campaigning? How is that essential work? It’s not like he’s helping to contain the virus. In fact, the opposite. He’s holding rallies that could be spreading the virus.
Meadows defended both Trump and Pence holding rallies by saying the two are also working.
Meadows: I’m not saying [Pence] is not campaigning. I’m saying that that is only part of what he’s doing. And as we look at that—essential personnel, whether it’s the vice president of the United States or anyone else.
Tapper: But he’s not following CDC guidelines.
The heated exchange continued with Tapper pointing out that CDC guidelines include mask-wearing, which both Trump and Pence have flouted too many times to count.
Meadows’s excuse-making fits rather consistently with the way he downplays the virus on both a personal and professional level.
Following the White House Covid-19 outbreak earlier this month, the chief of staff met with the press without wearing a mask, but at the same time told members of the media, “I fully expect that as this virus continues to go on, other people in the White House will certainly have a positive test result.”
Back in May, Meadows ignored Atlanta’s state and municipal guidelines limiting gatherings to 10 people or less by hosting his daughter’s wedding indoors with over 70 guests in attendance.
And just last week, as reporters asked Meadows to keep his mask on while speaking to them, he stubbornly walked away while refusing to do so.
Video of Capitol Hill reporters insisting WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wear a mask while talking with them and Meadows deciding he won’t talk to reporters if he has to wear a mask. pic.twitter.com/kDX10BLDnk
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 12, 2020
It’s astonishing that those in the highest position of governmental leadership—as the Covid-19 cases have reached record highs, hospitalizations on the rise, and more than 225,000 dead—continue to ignore safety measures. It’s dumb and it’s dangerous.