White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in a Sunday morning appearance on CNN that "we're not going to control the pandemic," a remark that critics took as an open admission by a top official that the Trump administration has given up trying to stop the spread of a virus that has killed more than 224,000 Americans and counting.
"So here's what we have to do: We're not going to control the pandemic," said Meadows, who previously served in Congress as a Tea Party Republican. "We are gonna control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigation areas."
Asked by CNN host Jake Tapper why the U.S. isn't going to bring the pandemic under control, Meadows responded: "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."
"'It is what it is' wasn't a randomly tossed off phrase: it's the official policy," tweeted emergency physician Esther Choo as clips of Meadows' interview began circulating on social media.
Meadows went on to insist that "we are making efforts to contain" the virus before falsely claiming that those advocating stricter measures want to "quarantine all of America."
MEADOWS: We're not going to control the pandemic
TAPPER: Why not?
M: Because it's a contagious virus
T: Why not make efforts to contain it?
M: What we need to do is make sure we have the proper mitigation factors to make sure people don't die pic.twitter.com/0DYgk4rB3T
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 25, 2020
"Mark Meadows admits on camera, nine days before the election, that the White House has given up trying to control the virus that has killed more than 220,000 Americans," tweeted former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer.
Critics of the White House concluded months ago that the president and his top advisers effectively stopped attempting to contain the virus as they advocated premature reopenings, embraced dangerous strategies like "herd immunity," and publicly downplayed the severity of the pandemic even as it infected millions and ravaged the nation's economy.
Others in the federal government, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, have persisted in sounding the alarm as the U.S. sees another alarming surge in cases.
In recent weeks, with the November election approaching, Trump has recklessly held rallies in major states nationwide—campaign events that have since been connected to community outbreaks of Covid-19.
When Tapper mentioned Sunday that the president is holding crowded in-person rallies despite the public health risks, Meadows responded, "That's correct."