In an interview on the CNN show, State of the Union, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that the coronavirus pandemic was uncontrollable and he also said that COVID-19 was just like the flu.
Meadows’ comments came as Jake Tapper, host of the State of the Union, was questioning whether Vice President Mike Pence should be campaigning without a mask since Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for coronavirus as well as four other Pence aides, according to Intelligencer.
Meadows Said the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Not Be Controlled
Meadows and Tapper sparred during the Sunday morning show, State of the Union, when Meadows refused to acknowledge that Mike Pence was not following CDC guidelines and quarantining after being in contact with several people who tested positive for coronavirus.
Tapper also took issue with Pence classifying his campaigning activity as part of his job as an essential worker, while Meadows said that Pence was working as well as campaigning.
Here is the exchange between the two, in its full context:
(Tapper:) Marc Short has been in contact with Vice President Pence, they are always with each other. Short is now positive for the virus, so CDC guidelines say that vice president Pence should quarantine for 14 days. Now I understand the White House is trying to get around that by saying the vice president is an essential worker. But Mark, how is going all over the country, campaigning, how is that essential work? It’s not like he is helping to contain the virus, in fact, the opposite: he is holding rallies that could be spreading the virus.
(Meadows:) Well, actually, he is not just campaigning, he is working. We saw a middle east peace agreement with Sudan in the Oval Office of the President and Gage then and for anybody to suggest about a president has been out campaigning and not getting things done, all you have to do is look at the facts.,
(Tapper:) He was at a campaign rally in Tallahassee. He was just at a campaign rally in Tallahassee.
(Meadows:) I am not saying that he is not out campaigning I am saying that is only part of what he is doing and as we look at that essential personnel, whether that is the vice president of the United States and everyone else has to go on.
(Tapper:) But he is not following CDC guidelines.
(Meadows:) CDC guidelines do say essential personnel, if they mask up —
(Tapper:) If they wear a mask, if they wear a mask.
(Meadows:) And I spoke to the vice president last night at midnight and I can tell you about what he is doing, is wearing a mask, social distancing, and what he goes up to speak, he will take the mask off and put it back on. But he is wearing the mask as it relates to this particular thing because doctors have advised him to do that. So, Jake, when we start to look at this, here is what we really need to make sure of – On your website yesterday, Jake, your website is talking about, well, now we think the spread is coming from small social groups and family groups. First, it was large groups, now it is small groups.
(Tapper:) It is coming from all sorts of places. It is coming from all sorts of places because the pandemic it’s out of control.
(Meadows:) That is exactly the point. So here’s what we have to do, we are not going to control pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other medication.
(Tapper:) Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?
(Meadows:) Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.
(Tapper:) But why not make efforts to contain it?
(Meadows:) We are making efforts to contain it.
(Tapper:) By running all over the country not wearing a mask? That’s what the vice president is doing.
(Meadows:) Jake, We can get into the back-and-forth. Let me just say, this is what we need to do. (We need to) make sure that we have proper mitigation factors, whether that is therapies, vaccines, or treatments to make sure that people do not die from this. But to suggest that we are actually going to quarantine all of America, lock down our –
(Tapper:) I didn’t say that. No one is saying that.
(Meadows:) Well, They are. Joe Biden is saying that. He says lock everybody down, we are going to have a “dark winter.”
(Tapper:) That is not what he said. He is not saying that.
(Meadows:) We are going to have a “dark winter.”
(Tapper:) That is what health officials say. That is what health officials say, that it’s going to get worse.
(Meadows:) No, no, no, no. Those were Joe Biden’s words.
(Tapper:) We had our two worst days, in terms of infections new infections, Friday and Saturday. The two worst days.
(Meadows:) Let’s be honest here. The health officials did not say “dark winter,” those were Joe Biden’s words.
(Tapper:) He was not quoting a health official, I think he was quoting William Haseltine.
(Meadows:) When we look up a number of cases increasing, what we need to do is make sure we fight it with Therapeutics in vaccines, take proper mitigation factors in terms of social distancing and masks when we can, and when we look at this, we are going to defeat it, Jake. Because, what we are, we are Americans, we do that. And this president is leading while Joe Biden is sitting there suggesting that we’re going to mandate masks.
(Tapper:) The president is holding rallies –
(Meadows:) That is correct.
(Tapper:) – all over the country
(Meadows:) That is correct.
(Tapper:) No masks –
(Meadows:) And in fact –
(Tapper:) No masks required, no social distancing. There have already been, according to health officials’ contact tracing, there have already been cases of individuals in Minnesota, and in Washington, D.C. and in Oklahoma that got the virus at these Trump rallies. (Rallies) that Dr. Fauci himself called a superspreader event, the one that the White House. That is not leading. That is not leading.
(Meadows:) There has also been contact tracing with reporters, some from your own group, where they actually have worn masks religiously. So what I am here to tell you is we need to find the vaccines and the Therapeutics to actually give Americans they’re relieved, that this is not a death sentence, because it is not. But at the same time, to suggest that any of that is not accurate is not based on the facts.
Is Coronavirus as Deadly as the Flu?
During Meadows’ October 25 State of the Union appearance, Meadows implied that the White House was working to bring the mortality rate of coronavirus down so it would not be “as lethal as the flu.”
Here is the full context of what he said during the interview:
And yet what we also know is, the one area that — where we are rounding the corner is really the death rate … Our ability to handle this has improved each and every day, each and every month. And when there were estimates that as many as 10%of the population that got this would actually experience a fatal result, we’re now down to 2.6%. Every death is too many. But, hopefully, we’re going to get this to the point where it’s not as lethal as the flu.
Actually, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that during the 2018-2019 flu season, 35.5 million people were sickened and 34,200 died, while an estimated 39-56 million contracted the flu and 24,000-62,000 people died in the roughly six-month span between October 1, 2020 and April 4, 2020.
In the eight-month period between February 1 and October 23, the CDC reported that 209,568 people who contracted coronavirus have died, which is more than four times the average of how many people died during the 2018-2019 flu season.
Both death estimates for influenza and coronavirus are counting those diseases as the primary cause of death and are including deaths where people contracted either influenza and coronavirus, then died from a subsequent pneumococcal infection.
The CDC has also said that coronavirus is that it spreads more easily and “causes more serious illnesses in some people.” The site noted that while there is a flu vaccine, there is “no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.”
The CDC indicated that people with COVID-19 are contagious for longer than those with the flu and they also noted COVID-19 as a virus is more contagious than the flu in certain circumstances, writing, “While COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu. Also, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than flu. This means the virus that causes COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continuous spreading among people as time progresses.”