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A day after saying, ‘We’re not going to control the epidemic,’ White House chief of staff clarifies remarks

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In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the administration is “not going to control” the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Meadows clarified his remarks, saying, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

Video Transcript

MARK MEADOWS: 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's small groups.

JAKE TAPPER: It's coming from all sorts of places.

MARK MEADOWS: Well, that's exactly-- that's exactly the point.

JAKE TAPPER: It's coming from all sorts of places because the pandemic's out of control.

MARK MEADOWS: So 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 mitigation areas--

JAKE TAPPER: Why aren't we going to get control of the pandemic?

MARK MEADOWS: Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu.

JAKE TAPPER: Yeah, but why not make efforts to contain it?

MARK MEADOWS: Well, we are making efforts to contain it.

JAKE TAPPER: By running all over the country, not wearing a mask? That's what the vice president's doing.

MARK MEADOWS: We can get into the back and forth. 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're going to actually quarantine all of America, lock down [INAUDIBLE].

JAKE TAPPER: No one's saying that.

MARK MEADOWS: Well, they are. Joe Biden is saying that. He says, lock everybody down.

JAKE TAPPER: That's not what he said.

MARK MEADOWS: We're gonna have-- we're gonna have a--

JAKE TAPPER: He's not--

MARK MEADOWS: --a dark--

JAKE TAPPER: He's not saying that.

MARK MEADOWS: We're gonna have a dark winter. We're gonna have a dark winter.

JAKE TAPPER: That's what health officials say. That's what health officials say, that it's gonna get worse.

MARK MEADOWS: No, no--

JAKE TAPPER: We had the--

MARK MEADOWS: --that's Joe Biden and his--

JAKE TAPPER: --two worst days--

MARK MEADOWS: Jake, Jake--

JAKE TAPPER: --in terms of of new infections--

MARK MEADOWS: --let's be honest. Let's--

JAKE TAPPER: --Friday and Saturday.

MARK MEADOWS: Let's be honest here.

JAKE TAPPER: The two worst days!

MARK MEADOWS: The health officials did not say dark winter. Those were Joe Biden's words.

JAKE TAPPER: He was quoting a health official. I think he was quoting William Haseltine.

MARK MEADOWS: When we look at the number of cases increasing, what we have to do is make sure that we fight it with therapeutics and vaccines, take proper mitigation factors in terms of social distancing and masks when we can. And when we look at this, we're going to defeat it, Jake. Because what we are-- we're Americans. We do that. And this president is leading, while Joe Biden is sitting there, suggesting that we're going to mandate masks.

JAKE TAPPER: Mark, the president--

- Mr. Meadows--

MARK MEADOWS: Yeah.

- --can I get you to respond to Vice President Biden? He released a statement after your comments yesterday morning. You said, we're not going to control the virus. He released a statement saying that this underscores a broader strategy and that the White House has waved a white flag.

MARK MEADOWS: Well, the only person waving a white flag, along with his white mask, is Joe Biden. I mean, when we look at this, we're going to defeat the virus. We're not going to control it. We will try to contain it as best we can.

And if you look at the full context, what I was talking about is we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines. We may need to make sure that when people get sick, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States has that we can provide. Those emergency use authorizations hopefully will be coming in very short order.

We're hopeful-- very hopeful-- based on a number of conversations that vaccines are just a few weeks away. And we're in preparation for that. And yet, at the same time, a national lockdown strategy, or a national quarantine strategy that is proposed by the left is not effective, is not what will ultimately contain or control this virus.

So any suggestion that we're waving the red flag-- I mean a white flag-- is certainly not in keeping with this president. You know him. He doesn't give up. And he's not going to give up until all Americans are safe, and we've defeated this virus.