Mark Meadows, Criticized For Saying US Will ‘Not Control The Pandemic,’ Reportedly Tests Positive For COVID-19

A picture of the White House.
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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

Bloomberg reported late on Friday that the White House chief of staff has told those close to him that he contracted coronavirus. The report noted that he told close associates after Tuesday’s election, but it was not clear when he may have first contracted the virus or began showing symptoms. The severity of his case was not fully known.

There are reports that others close to Trump have been infected this week, though it was not immediately clear if their cases were connected to Meadows.

Meadows would be the latest member of the administration to test positive for COVID-19, including an outbreak that followed a large reception held at the White House in honor of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

The president, along with his wife and their son, also tested positive in the days following the reception. He was ultimately taken to the hospital, where he was treated for several days before returning to the White House to finish his recovery.

Meadows had come under fire for statements about the administration’s approach to the pandemic, saying in October that the U.S. was “not going to control” the pandemic. The statement came amid a surge in cases that has continued into November, with the daily number of infections reaching a record of more than 120,000 on Thursday.

As CNN reported, the chief of staff appeared to look to the future for actions that could help mitigate the spread rather than focusing on taking actions now to stem the surge.

“We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,” Meadows said during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.

As the report noted, Meadows faced sharp criticism for the statement, with the campaign of Democratic candidate Joe Biden seizing on the comments. California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, said that his statement showed that they were capitulating.

“We are breaking records of the number of people that are contracting a deadly virus, and this administration fails to take personal responsibility or responsibility in terms of leading the nation through this dangerous, dangerous and deadly mass casualty event,” she said. “And that’s why they have forfeited their right to a second term in office.”

Mark Meadows prepares to speak outside the White House.
  Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

Trump and other top members of his administration have come under fire for what critics see as improper precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The president held a series of large in-person campaign rallies, some held indoors and many with no requirements for social distancing measures or masks.

Public health experts have warned that these rallies created a dangerous situation, and some local officials have connected local surges in cases to campaign events that took place there.

Trump has also been criticized for not addressing the American public or offering comfort to those affected by the pandemic, and for appearing to downplay the severity of the crisis.