White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the US is “not going to control” the coronavirus pandemic, as cases surge across the country and nearly 225,000 Americans have died from the virus.

“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 told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Pressed by Tapper on why the US isn’t going to get the pandemic under control, Meadows said: “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.” He added that the Trump administration is “making efforts to contain it.”

“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.

The comments from President Donald Trump‘s chief of staff come as coronavirus cases surge across the US, with the country having reported its second-highest day of new cases on Saturday. The administration is also facing a potential second outbreak in the White House, with at least five people in Vice President Mike Pence’s inner circle having tested positive in recent days, according to a source familiar with the situation.

But as concerns grow that more people in Pence’s orbit could test positive in the coming days, the vice president, who tested negative on Sunday, does not currently plan to self-quarantine and will continue campaigning as the election nears.

“I spoke to the vice president last night at midnight and I can tell you that what he is doing is wearing a mask, socially distancing and when he goes up to speak he will take the mask off and put it back on,” Meadows said. “He is wearing a mask as it relates to this particular thing because the doctors have advised him to do that.”

Meadows also argued that Pence would continue with travel plans because he is “essential personnel.”

“I’m not saying he is not campaigning, I’m saying that is only part of what he is doing and as we look at that, ‘essential personnel,’ whether it’s the vice president of the United States or anyone else, has to continue on,” he said.

Pence, who is known to rarely wear a mask while flying on Air Force Two, traveled on Saturday to Florida for campaign rallies in Lakeland and Tallahassee. The vice president walked across the tarmac from Marine Two in a mask and boarded Air Force Two about an hour behind schedule.

Pence emerged maskless from Air Force Two in Florida, running down the steps and jogging across the tarmac, fist pumping as he approached the podium.

An official told CNN’s Kevin Liptak on Sunday that Pence is expected to campaign every day until Election Day and those plans remain in place for now.

After visiting North Carolina later Sunday, the vice president is traveling to Minnesota on Monday and back to North and South Carolina on Tuesday. He’s also expected to return to the upper Midwest this week. The official said Pence would continue to be tested but, like Trump, still plans to be on the road every day for the next week.

There are at least 8,575,000 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 224,800 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks during a press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Friday, July 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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