President Trump said the White House Coronavirus Task Force “will continue on indefinitely,” but may “add or subtract” officials as it shifts its focus on reopening the U.S. economy.
“The White House CoronaVirus Task Force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, has done a fantastic job of bringing together vast highly complex resources that have set a high standard for others to follow in the future,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN. We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate.”
The president added that the task force would also be “very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics.”
….produced in the thousands, and we have many to spare. We are helping other countries which are desperate for them. Likewise, after having been left little, we are now doing more testing than all other countries combined, and with superior tests. Face masks & shields,….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 6, 2020
….to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 6, 2020
In the tweets, Trump didn’t say exactly on which members would be added or removed from the task force.
The series of morning tweets comes a day after Vice President Mike Pence confirmed a New York Times report that suggested the White House plans to “gradual demise” the task force in the coming weeks. Pence told reporters that they are in “preliminary discussions” about plans to wind down the coronavirus task force and shift the public health response management to FEMA 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 told reporters at an off-camera limited briefing. “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.”
Shortly after Pence confirmed the report, Trump said the task force would take “a little bit of a different form.”
“Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we’re now looking at a little bit of a different form,” Trump said during a visit to a mask factory in Phoenix. “That form is safety and opening, and we’ll have a different group probably set up for that.”
The task force, along with President Trump gave daily televised briefings on the pandemic during the month of March and April but were largely phased out after some states began transitioning on focusing to reopen its own economy.