- Vice President Mike Pence told reporters in a Tuesday off-camera briefing that the White House is considering phasing out its coronavirus task force.
- Pence, the leader of the task force, said that the administration was engaged in “preliminary discussions” about winding down the task force by Memorial Day.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the task force, told CBS News, however, that he wasn’t aware of any plans to disband the task force this month.
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Vice President Mike Pence told reporters in a Tuesday off-camera briefing that the White House is considering phasing out its coronavirus task force as the administration encourages states to reopen their economies.
Pence, the leader of the task force, said that the administration was engaged in “preliminary discussions” about winding down the task force by Memorial Day.
“I think we’re having conversations about that and about what the proper time is for the task force to complete its work and for the ongoing efforts to take place on an agency-by-agency level,” Pence said, according to the pool report of the event. “And we’ve already begun to talk about a transition plan with FEMA.”
He added: “I think we’re starting to look at the Memorial Day window, early June window as a time when we could begin to transition back to having our agencies begin to manage – begin to manage our national response in a more traditional manner.”
At an event in Arizona, President Donald Trump said, “we’re now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and reopening, and “we’ll have a group set up for that” in response to a question about whether the task force would wind down.
The current task force includes White House officials, public health experts, and other emergency management officials from different federal agencies. So far, it isn’t clear what the task force would be replaced by, if anything.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the task force, told CBS News’ Paula Reid, however, that he wasn’t aware of any plans to disband the task force this month.
Just spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci and he says #coronavirus task force is not winding down. “That’s not true, I’ve been in every task force meeting, and that’s not what they are doing." #COVID19 https://t.co/vgcwFcuEEg
— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCNN) May 5, 2020
While the White House is projecting an optimistic message about the US’ recovery from the pandemic, the severity of the outbreak in the US continues to worsen, with confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all rising.
As of Tuesday, there are over 1.19 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the United States with over 70,000 people dead from the disease.
For several weeks, the task force was the public face of the administration’s coronavirus response, with all or most members giving lengthy daily briefings at the White House.
But in the wake of Trump’s declining favorability numbers over his handling of the crisis and controversial comments he made wondering whether sunlight and disinfectant could be injected to cure coronavirus, Trump’s advisers have reportedly encouraged him to cut back on his lengthy daily briefings.
Depsite Pence suggesting that the task force may be phased out by the end of this month, Trump told the New York Post in a recent interview that he and his new White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany plans to give semi-regular briefings.
“You know, we didn’t stop them,” Trump said. “I mean, this is breaking, this, but we didn’t stop them. Because we’ll probably do maybe one a week, sometimes two depending on the news, but Kayleigh’s going to be able to do them.”
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