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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Londonderry, N.H. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LONDONDERRY, N.H. (AP) — The coronavirus has reached into the heart of the White House once more, little more than a week before Election Day, and the president's top aide says "we're not going to control the pandemic."

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.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, 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" the government was focused on getting effective therapeutics and vaccines to market.

Pence, who tested negative Sunday, according to his office, planned an afternoon rally in North Carolina, while the president held an afternoon rally in New Hampshire and visited an orchard in Levant, Maine, where he assured supporters that a "red wave" was coming Nov. 3.

Democrat Joe Biden attended church and planned to participate in a virtual get-out-the-vote concert at night. He said in a statement that Meadows was effectively waving "the white flag of defeat" and "a candid acknowledgement of what President Trump's strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis."

In a brief exchange with reporters before the orchard visit, Trump demurred when asked if Pence should step off the campaign trail as a precaution.

"You'd have to ask him," Trump said.

The White House said none of the staff traveling with Trump on Sunday had been in close contact with any individuals in the vice president's office who had tested positive. However, public health experts said Pence's decision to keep in-person campaigning was flouting common sense.

"If Pence did not self-quarantine, it would violate every core public health principle his own task force recommends," said Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University school of law. "It's one standard for the vice president and another for all the rest of us."

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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. About half the states have seen their highest daily infection numbers so far at some point in October.

Trump, campaigning in Londonderry, New Hampshire, said the rising rate of infections was nothing to be concerned about.

"You know why we have cases so much?" Trump asked the crowd. "Because all we do is test."

Entering the final full week before the election, the Trump team remains committed to full-throttle campaigning. Trump has resumed a hectic schedule since recovering from his own recent coronavirus case, and planned to campaign today in Pennsylvania. Pence will campaign in Minnesota that day and return to North Carolina on Tuesday.

Despite the rising virus numbers, the White House said 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.

Trump and his aides again on Sunday lashed out on Biden, asserting Biden was determined to lock down the economy, while the president is centering his attention on getting therapies and vaccines to market.

"We want normal life to resume," Trump said. "We just want normal life."

Biden, in fact, has said he would only shut down the country if that is what government scientists advise. He has said 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.

Pence's office said there are no plans to curtail campaigning. In addition to chief of staff Marc Short, who tested positive Saturday, a "couple" other aides also have also contracted the disease, Meadows said.

Meadows said Pence will wear a mask "because the doctors have advised him to do that," but he will take it off when he gives a speech.

Even with Pence's latest negative test, symptoms, including fever, cough and fatigue, may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some asymptomatic individuals test positive two to three days before developing symptoms.

The White House said Pence was considered in "close contact" with Short under CDC guidelines. The guidelines require essential workers exposed to someone with the coronavirus closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.

After consulting with the White House Medical Unit, Pence intended to maintain his schedule "in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel," said Devin O'Malley, a Pence spokesman.

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