With just nine days left until the presidential election, and more than 225,000 Americans dead, the Trump administration is more or less giving up on controlling the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are not going to control the pandemic,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
Tapper had been inquiring about the White House’s plans to allow Vice President Mike Pence to continue campaigning, despite likely exposure to at least five members of his staff who tested positive for covid. But the conversation became about the pandemic more broadly when Meadows brought up a CNN article about the virus spreading in small gatherings which he wrongly considered to be at odds with warnings against congregating in large crowds.
“We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,” Meadows told Tapper.
Meadows tried to walk back his earlier statement, continuing: “Let me just say this. What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don’t die from this. But to suggest that we are going to actually quarantine all of America—”
“No one’s saying that,” Tapper responded.
Of course there’s almost nothing to suggest Trump ever was particularly concerned about curbing the spread of the virus to begin with. For the duration of the pandemic, the president has been fixated on reopening the economy and seeing the stock market rebound. He’s promoted the harmful idea that state stay-at-home orders are restrictions on freedom, inciting violence among his supporters against the governors who put them in place.
And he’s warned, again and again, that the “cure” can’t be “worse than the problem itself,” making it clear that he’s not willing to take life-saving measures to slow the rate of infection, which is spiking nationally for the third time since March.
Trump and his administration have made it clear enough that they found it preferable to let tens of thousands of Americans die than to hand down federal mandates that could upset the president’s core supporters. Now it’s that much clearer.