White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday insisted that the surge in COVID-19 deaths is something that President Donald Trump "can't control."
Meadows made the remarks during an interview on ABC's This Week program after host George Stephanopoulos noted that over 1,000 Americans had died each day for five days in a row.
"What's your strategy to turn this around?" the host asked.
Meadows pointed to efforts to produce therapeutics and vaccines to fight COVID-19.
"But this is a virus that came from China," he continued. "Something that's unexpected. Obviously when you're in the political world, there are those things that you can control, there are those things that you can't."
"You say there are some things you can't control," Stephanopoulos pressed. "But do you acknowledge that had the president promoted masks earlier, had the country moved towards shutting down the economy -- at least in parts -- earlier, we could have done a better job controlling this virus?"
For his part, Meadows called Trump's response to COVID-19 "unprecedented."
"The president shut down the economy to try to mitigate the damage," he added. "You mentioned masks. Obviously, we all want to do whatever we can do to stop this and wearing masks where there's not the ability to social distance is one additional thing that we can do."
Meadows, however, argued that masks are mandatory in southern Florida "and yet they continue to see this virus escalate and so we're not going to have a solution to this."
"It's not masks, it's not shutting down the economy," he added. "It is American ingenuity that will allow for therapies and vaccines to ultimately conquer this."