Virus outbreak strikes aides to VP
Trump official: ‘We’re not going to control the pandemic’
LONDONDERRY, N.H. — The coronavirus has reached the upper echelons of the White House again, with an outbreak among aides to Vice President Mike Pence just over a week from Election Day. A top White House official declared: “We’re not going to control the pandemic.”
Officials on Sunday also scoffed at the notion of Pence dialing back in-person campaigning despite positive tests among several people in his office. Pence, who leads the White House’s coronavirus task force, has an aggressive travel schedule planned for the final days of the campaign.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, pressed to explain why the pandemic cannot be reined in, said, “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.” He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the government was focused on getting effective therapeutics and vaccines to market.
Pence, who tested negative on Sunday, according to his office, held a rainy early evening rally in Kinston, North Carolina, a state that Trump won in 2016 and is crucial to his reelection hopes. Meanwhile, the president held a rally in New Hampshire and visited an orchard in Levant, Maine, where he signed autographs and assured a crush of mostly unmasked supporters that a “red wave” was coming on Nov. 3.
The president and first lady Melania Trump wrapped up the busy weekend by hosting costumed children for a socially distanced Halloween trick-or-treating on the White House grounds.
Democrat Joe Biden attended church and planned to participate in a virtual get-out-the-vote concert at night. He said in a statement that Meadows was effectively waving “the white flag of defeat” and “a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis.”
In a brief exchange with reporters before the orchard visit, Trump demurred when asked if Pence should step off the campaign trail as a precaution. “You’d have to ask him,” Trump said.
The White House said none of the staff traveling with Trump on Sunday had been in close contact with any individuals in the vice president’s office who had tested positive.