Is WH Chief of Staff Meadows right to say we can’t control the pandemic?


Fact Box

  • As of October 26, there have been 8.9 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 230,749 reported deaths. 
  • Health officials expect there to be a “substantial third wave” of coronavirus infections due to seasonal influenza throughout the fall and winter. 
  • On Friday, the US recorded a new high of COVID-19 numbers, hitting over 83,000 cases compared to the previous record of 77,000 cases. 
  • White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, stated “we’re not going to control the pandemic… because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Bill (Yes)

WH Chief of Staff Meadows was right to say we can't control the pandemic. But Meadows's statement does not imply that the US is surrendering to COVID; rather, he meant the focus should be on mitigating the most serious effects of the virus, 'whether it's therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don't die from this.' Meanwhile, Joe Biden is trying to exploit Meadows's statement for political gain by claiming it's evidence Trump is “waving the white flag of defeat' against fighting the coronavirus.

Meadows's statement was merely a pragmatic shift of the narrative away from the number of tests and cases, which are misleading metrics. In fact, during October, ~5% of those tested for symptoms were determined to have Coronavirus, and the cumulative hospitalization rate is less than .2% (193.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 population). Curiously, the media touts only the numbers that stoke the public's fear.

Meadows was right to describe Covid as a contagious virus, and thus, efforts to control it are misdirected. As noted above, most people's immune systems are effective in fighting it. For the few who experience complications that require medical attention, it makes sense for the government to focus its resources on effectively treating the virus with the full scope of therapeutic options available—from medications and equipment needed to counteract the negative effects. A further complicating factor in controlling the virus is realizing each state is affected differently and has a different response regarding lockdown restrictions, etc. Meadows's statement was on target.

Andrew (No)

With the many simple and effective measures that we have for combatting Coronavirus at our disposal, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is wrong to say we can't control the pandemic. Masks and social distancing have been proven effective, as have hand washing and increased sanitation protocols. Further, the treatments and therapeutics we have currently are better than they were at the start of the pandemic, with new treatments and an eventual vaccine in development. Instead of saying we can't control the pandemic, Meadows and the Trump administration should be on the frontline promoting these simple and effective strategies.

To say that we can't control the pandemic is tantamount to giving up, and we should expect more from our leaders. What he is really saying is that we are unwilling to control the pandemic. As a nation, we have overcome enormous challenges in the past, and exceptional, forward-thinking leadership has been essential. Meadows is signaling that the Trump administration is simply giving up the fight by saying there is nothing we can do.

Meadows also argued the coronavirus pandemic is like the annual seasonal flu virus, which experts have strongly contradicted. Twitter and Facebook have both recently flagged posts from the president conflating the Coronavirus with the seasonal flu as misinformation. By saying that Coronavirus is just like the flu and that there is nothing we can do about it, rather than encouraging action, Meadows, and others who propagate this strategy are putting many people at increased risk of suffering and death.

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