The US has seen its highest ever number of new virus cases in the past two days, recording 79,852 new infections on Saturday, close to the previous day’s record of 84,244 new cases.
Hospitalizations are also rising and nearly 225,000 Americans have died from the infectious disease so far.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”
This comes as the administration of President Donald Trump, who has been under criticism over his handling of the crisis, continues to consistently disregard advice from government health experts to wear masks, social distance and avoid large gatherings in order to stem the spread of the virus.
When asked by Tapper why the US will not be able to get the pandemic under control, Meadows said, “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”
However, he said, the administration is “making efforts to contain it,” adding, “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.”
With nine days to go before the Nov. 3 election, keeping the pandemic remains a top election issue as Vice President Mike Pence continues to campaign despite close aides testing positive.
Pence has been exposed to his chief of staff, Marc Short, who tested positive on Saturday. However, he and his wife had tested negative.
But according to Meadows, multiple senior aides to the vice president also tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite a surge in as the virus cases in many parts of the United States, Trump told an airport rally in New Hampshire, “There’s no nation in the world that’s recovered like we’ve recovered.”
“We are coming around, we’re rounding the turn, we have the vaccines, we have everything. Even without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn,” Trump told supporters, many of them not wearing masks or observing social-distancing guidelines.
Meanwhile, Democratic nominee for the election Joe Biden seized on Meadows’ comments and accused Trump of giving up in the fight against the fatal disease.
“It was a candid acknowledgement 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,” the former vice president said in a statement.
“It hasn’t, and it won’t.”
According to polls, the Republican president trails Biden nationally and in the key swing states, with the former vice president being up by about 9 to 10 points.
Early voting has also surpassed all the pre-election ballots from four years earlier, an independent vote monitor said Sunday.
The tally by the independent US Election Project, run by the University of Florida, said that as of Sunday over 59 million people had voted while in 2016, some 137 million votes were cast in total.