Democrat vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris on Sunday used White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’s comments about controlling the spread of the coronavirus to lambast President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
During a heated exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper on the Sunday broadcast of State of the Union, Meadows said the Trump administration is “not going to control” the spread of the Chinese virus and is shifting its focus towards developing a vaccine, therapeutics, and other mitigation strategies.
Referring to the spread of the disease, Meadows declared:
We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigations.
When we look at the number of cases increasing, what we have to do is make sure that we fight it with therapeutics and vaccines, take proper mitigation factors in terms of social distancing and masks when we can. And when we look at this, we’re going to defeat it Jake because of what we are — we’re Americans. We do 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
Nevertheless, when asked later on Sunday to comment on what Meadows said, Harris told reporters, “They are admitting defeat.”
“This is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of America,” Harris also said, adding:
This administration fails to take personal responsibility or responsibility in terms of leading the nation through this dangerous and deadly mass casualty event. And that’s why they have forfeited their right to a second term in office.
Harris claimed that Meadows suggested the coronavirus is as deadly as the flu.
“They’re suggesting to the American people that this is like the flu when we have known from the beginning, and they knew since January that it’s five times more deadly than the flu,” she said.
However, Trump’s chief of staff indicated that the Chinese virus is as infectious as the flu and did not compare fatality rates.
CNN’s Tapper, who appeared to be debating rather than interviewing Meadows, asked the chief of staff, “Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?”
“Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu,” Meadows replied.
Currently, there are no vaccines to combat any coronaviruses in humans. Nevertheless, the Trump administration has launched an effort — Operation Warp Speed — to develop vaccines and therapeutics in record times.
So far, there are several vaccine candidates that health officials believe U.S. regulators will approve by later this year or early 2021. Health experts say it will take months for a potential vaccine to be available for widespread use, with essential workers and the most vulnerable likely to get it first.
Earlier this week, U.S. regulators approved the first drug to treat the Chinese virus — the antiviral remdesivir. U.S. regulators have granted emergency authorizations to using other therapeutics against the deadly and contagious disease.
Harris also seized on the record number of daily cases reported across the U.S. in the last two days to criticize the Trump administration.
“This week alone, nationally, we are breaking records for the number of people that are contracting a deadly virus, and this administration fails to take personal responsibility or responsibility,” she said.
According to data maintained by the COVID Tracking Project, new daily cases have hit record levels in recent days, along with the number of new tests carried out daily.
Our daily update is published. States reported 1.2 million tests, 83k cases, 42k currently hospitalized. The death toll was 885 today. pic.twitter.com/PQySoeKkXr
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) October 24, 2020
More tests translate to more detected cases. The average number of daily hospitalizations and, to a far lower extent, deaths have also increased in recent days but remain well below record levels.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority of people who contract the virus survive.