Mark Meadows said Sunday that the White House is no longer focusing on stopping the spread of coronavirus, and instead is putting its efforts into developing a vaccine and other therapeutics to combat the pandemic.
The White House chief of staff got into a terse back-and-forth with CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday morning over President Donald Trump's strategy to not try to 'control' the virus because it cannot be controlled.
'Here's what we have to do. We're not going to control the pandemic, we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations,' Meadows said in his interview on 'State of the Union.'
'Why aren't we going to get control of the pandemic?' Tapper asked.
'Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu,' Meadows reasoned.
'Yeah, but why not make efforts to contain it?' the CNN host pushed.
Meadows assured, 'Well we are making efforts to contain it.'
CNN's Jake Tapper (left) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (right) got into a terse back-and-forth Sunday as Meadows revealed President Donald Trump's coronavirus strategy is not to 'control' the pandemic, but create therapeutics and a vaccine
'Here's what we have to do. We're not going to control the pandemic, we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations,' Meadows said, with Tapper pushing back
'By running all over the country not wearing a mask? That's what the vice president's doing,' Tapper said, referencing Vice President Mike Pence continuing to travel for the reelection campaign after five of his staffers, including his chief of staff, tested positive for coronavirus.
'Jake, we can get into the back and forth. Let me just say this – is what we need to do is make sure we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it's therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don't die from this,' Meadows said. 'But to suggest that we're going to actually quarantine all of America, lock down our economy –'
'Nobody's saying that,' Tapper cut in.
'Well they are, Joe Biden's saying that. He says, lock everybody down, we're going to have a dark winter,' Meadows said, taking a jab at the Democratic nominee's comments from the debate in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday.
'That's what health officials say,' Tapper said, launching the two into a series of cross-talk points.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo weighed in on the strategy, claiming it is essentially a 'surrender' to the virus.
'[The White House has] believed from the beginning that they can't control the virus,' Cuomo said in a statement Sunday. 'That's the only rationale that explains the denial and the lying.'
'If you believed you could control it, then you'd try to control it; if you don't believe you can control it, then you lie about it and deny it and you minimize it.' he continued.
'They surrendered without firing a shot. It was the great American surrender,' the New York Democrat said. 'Americans don't surrender. And they didn't even put up a fight and what we learned in New York was if you put up a fight you would have won because New York won. Other states won also.'
Both Biden and Trump were asked what they would do to mitigate coronavirus if they won the election.
Debate moderator, NBC News' Kristen Welker, asked Biden about a vaccine for COVID-19 as some have cast doubts on whether it would be safe and others have pledged not to take it.
'Just 40 per cent of Americans say they would definitely agree to take a vaccine, if it was approved by the government. What steps would you take to give Americans confidence in a vaccine if it were approved?' Welker asked of Biden.
'Make sure it's totally transparent. Have the science and we will see it, know it, look at it. Go through the processes,' he said.
'And by the way, this is the same fellow who told you this was going to end by Easter last time,' Biden said of Trump, who was six feet from him on the stage. 'This is the same fellow who said, 'Don't worry, we're going to end it this by the summer.' We're about to go into a dark winter.'
Only 40 per cent of Americans say that they would definitely take a vaccine if it were developed as Democratic nominee Joe Biden predicted the U.S. is going to enter a 'dark winter' with the pandemic prevailing
'A dark winter, and he has no clear plan and there's no prospect that there's going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year,' Biden continued.
'We are opening up our country,' Trump said. 'We have learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn't at the beginning,' he continued. 'When I closed and banned China from coming in – heavily infected – and ultimately Europe, but China was in January, months later, [Biden] was saying I was xenophobic. Now he says, 'Oh I should have moved quicker.''
Nearly 225,000 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S. – the most reported deaths of any country in the world – and there are more than 8.5 million confirmed cases in America.