Cuomo on Trump administration COVID policy: 'They surrendered'

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NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the White House Chief of Staff revealed the Trump administration's coronavirus policy when he said that "we're not going to control the pandemic."

Cuomo said Mark Meadows' comment on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning amounted to a preemptive "surrender."

The governor said the statement was telling and basically admitted the way the administration has handled the pandemic since the start.

"They capitulated, they surrendered, they surrendered without firing a shot. It was the great American surrender. Americans don't surrender," Cuomo said. "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 one. Because New York won. Other states won also. We cant control the virus. Trump's theory -- preemptive capitulation -- don't even try. Just surrender preemptively. President Trump, Commander in Chief, gets attacked by an enemy and his policy - preemptive capitulation. That's what we did. And now we have 217,000 people dead."

Cuomo said Meadows is fundamentally wrong on the facts because "we are in the state of New York, and New York proved definitively, you can control the virus."

He went on to say that the nation is in the current situation because they didn't believe they could control the virus.

"Flattening the curve is controlling the virus," Cuomo said. "Controlling is a different word than eliminating. We controlled the virus. So he is wrong. But that's what they believe. And that's why they never tried to control the virus."

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White House officials on Sunday scoffed at the notion of dialing back in-person campaigning despite positive tests from several aides to Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force.

Meadows, when 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.
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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was pressed to explain why the pandemic cannot be reined in, and he told CNN, "Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu."


Pence, who tested negative on Sunday, according to his office, planned an afternoon rally in North Carolina, while the president was scheduled to be in New Hampshire and Maine. Democrat Joe Biden attended church in the morning and planned to participate in a virtual get-out-the-vote concert at night. His running mate Kamala Harris spoke to a drive-in church service outside Detroit and was spending the day in Michigan. The California senator appeared to have the White House in mind when she praised first responders as "people who reject the notion that we cannot control this virus."

The U.S. set a daily record Friday for new confirmed coronavirus infections and nearly matched it Saturday with 83,178, data published by Johns Hopkins University shows. Close to 8.6 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and about 225,000 have died; both totals are the world's highest.

Despite the rising virus numbers, the White House says the U.S. economy needs to fully reopen and it has tried to counter Biden's criticism that Trump is not doing enough to contain the worst U.S. public health crisis in more than a century.

"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," Meadows said. "But to suggest that we're going to actually quarantine all of America, lock down our economy. ... Joe Biden is saying that."

Biden has said he would only shut down the country if that is what government scientists advise. He has said that if elected he would make the case for why a national mask mandate might be necessary and would go to the governors to help increase Americans' mask-wearing.

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(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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