U.S. President Donald Trump says he has not given up on the fight against the coronavirus, rejecting criticism from his Democratic election opponent Joe Biden that his administration has waved “the white flag of defeat.”
Speaking to reporters on the tarmac at an airport in Allentown just before the first of three rallies Monday in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Trump said Biden is “waving the white flag on life. He has to leave his basement. This guy doesn't leave his basement.”
Biden on Saturday held two drive-in rallies in Pennsylvania, adhering to social distancing restrictions, but he is not campaigning Monday.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that the United States is "not going to control" the coronavirus pandemic, defending the decision by the Trump administration and campaign to hold packed rallies, where mask use is sparse, and other events despite surging COVID-19 cases.
Meadows added that “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations, because it is a contagious virus — just like the flu.”
“This wasn’t a slip by Meadows, 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. It hasn’t, and it won’t,” said a Sunday statement from Biden.
“He’s not going to give up until all Americans are safe and we’ve defeated this virus,” Meadows clarified to reporters at the White House on Monday, saying his comment of the previous day needs to be taken in full context and that therapeutic drugs and an eventual vaccine will be effective.
Five of the vice president’s closest aides, including his chief of staff, Marc Short, have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.
Despite the close contact with Short and others who have been infected, the vice president has said he plans on continuing with his schedule, deeming his work “essential.”
Pence headed to Minnesota for a quick campaign stop on Monday and is holding events on Tuesday in both North Carolina and South Carolina. An aide to Pence said he no longer plans on presiding over Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation vote to the Supreme Court late Monday “unless his vote is needed.”
Members of Senate Democratic leadership, in a letter to Pence, had said his attendance would “be a clear violation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy.”
The United States has reported more COVID-19 cases than any country — more than 8.6 million with 225,000 deaths attributed to the virus, according to data from John Hopkins University.