WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s chief of staff acknowledged Sunday that the Trump administration won’t be able to do much about the spread of COVID-19, and is focusing on cures instead.
“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Meadows added, “we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and others say Trump has never tried to control the spread of the virus, citing actions ranging from his mocking of mask wearing to his insistence on holding campaign rallies with maskless people packed close together.
When CNN host Jake Tapper asked, “why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?” Meadows responded: “Because it is a contagious virus.”
☕ The latest:
- Marc Short, chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, has tested positive for COVID-19. At least three staffers have now tested positive, according to CNN and The New York Times. The Times says the total number is as high as five.
- A lawyer for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner sent a letter to the Lincoln Project on Friday threatening to sue if two billboards in Times Square were not removed.
📊 What the polls are saying: Fifty-four percent of registered voters said Biden performed better than Trump during the second presidential debate, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Friday. Thirty-nine percent thought Trump came out ahead.
📆 Nine days until Election Day, 87 days until Inauguration Day, 68 days left in 2020.
🗳️ Voting: See USA TODAY’s Voter Guide for information on registering to vote, when your state begins voting and what the candidates think about the issues.
We will update this article throughout the day. You can follow all of USA TODAY’s politics reporters on Twitter or subscribe to our daily On Politics newsletter.
AOC: ‘It will be a privilege’ to lobby Biden on fracking
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that former Vice President Joe Biden’s stance on fracking does not bother her, despite the two having contrasting views on the practice.
“I have a very strong position on fracking, the science is very clear,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear he does not agree with a fracking ban.”
Ocasio-Cortez said, “It will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House but we need to focus on winning the White House first.”
“I’m happy to make my case but I understand that he is in disagreement on that issue,” she said.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is an extraction method that uses a mix of water and pressurized chemicals to break up bedrock and draw out natural gas and petroleum.
The practice has become a campaign issue as rising opposition to it collides with communities in swing states who are dependent on the fossil fuel industry.
In February, Ocasio-Cortez co-sponsored a bill to ban fracking nationwide.
– Matthew Brown
Chris Christie ‘surprised’ Pence campaigning after aide tests positive
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie expressed surprise at Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to continue campaigning after several senior aides tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I think everybody’s gotta put the health of the people they’re going to be in touch with first,” Christie told ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz on “This Week.”
“You gotta keep yourself away from everybody, and I’m a little bit surprised,” Christie said of the behavior of Pence and his aides.
Christie, who has worked with the Trump campaign and attended an outdoor White House gathering widely believed to be a “superspreader” event, was hospitalized for COVID-19 in early October.
On Wednesday, Christie published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging Americans to wear masks and social distance, saying it was a “serious failure” for him to have been maskless at the White House, when he assisted with preparation ahead of the first debate, and that he was “lucky to be alive.”
“These minor inconveniences can save your life, your neighbors and the economy. Seldom has so little been asked for so much benefit,” Christie wrote.
– Matthew Brown
Pence will still campaign, despite aide’s COVID-19 case
WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence will continue to campaign and work at the White House despite his close contact with an aide who has tested positive for COVID-19, said President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines call for people to quarantine for 14 days after exposure to someone with the virus, but Meadows told CNN’s “State of the Union” there are exceptions for “essential personnel” like the vice president.
“He’s not just campaigning, he’s working” in the vice president’s office, Meadows said, adding that Pence will wear a mask and practice social distancing while carrying out those duties.
Pence has a campaign event scheduled for early Sunday in Kinston, North Carolina.
This comes a day after Pence’s office announced that Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, tested positive for COVID-19.
Pence himself had a negative test this weekend, the office said.
Meadows acknowledged that several Pence aides had tested positive, but he declined to discuss the cases because “sharing personal information is not something we should do unless it’s the President or the Vice President.”
Meadows also provided few details about Pence and Donald Trump; he said they are tested regularly, but declined to say whether it’s daily.
“We don’t get into safety protocols,” Meadows told CNN.
– David Jackson