In reversal, Trump says coronavirus task force will keep working

After stopping task force briefings at the White House, President Trump gave an interview to Fox News in Washington DC’s Lincoln Memorial on Sunday.

Washington: President Donald Trump said Wednesday the coronavirus task force will keep working “indefinitely,” reversing his suggestion a day earlier and indication by Vice President Mike Pence that it would be phased out in coming weeks.

While the task force is not going away, it may replace some members and will shift its focus toward an economic reopening in the U.S., Trump said in tweets, reports CNBC. 

The group, led by the Vice President, “has done a fantastic job of bringing together vast highly complex resources,” such as ventilators, face masks and testing systems, Trump said.

“Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on safety & opening up our country again,” the president tweeted.

“We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!” Trump added.

On Tuesday, Trump had said he was winding down the task force “because we can’t keep our country closed for the next five years.” 

Sources told CNBC and other outlets Tuesday that White House staff had signaled to task force officials that a phase-out was forthcoming. Pence appeared to confirm those reports, suggesting that winding down the task force is “all a reflection of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.”

The Trump administration is having conversations with FEMA about transitioning the coronavirus response to other federal agencies, Pence said Tuesday.

The task force, which includes response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, was formed in late January and put in charge of the administration’s efforts to slow the spread of the deadly disease in the United States.

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