President Trump is looking to wind down the White House coronavirus task force in the coming weeks even as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. continues to rise, the New York Times reported.
Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump appointed to lead the task force, confirmed that such a plan was in the works on Tuesday. “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. And we’ve already begun to talk about a transition plan with FEMA,” Pence told reporters.
“But it’s — it really is all a reflection of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.”
Touring a mask production facility in Phoenix, Ariz., on Tuesday, his first public event outside the White House in weeks, Trump confirmed that he was disbanding the task force.
“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 told reporters, adding, “and that form is safety and opening and we’ll have a different group probably set up for that.”
As reported Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has projected a rise in daily deaths from COVID-19 to around 3,000 by the end of this month, and a near-doubling of total deaths, to 134,000, by the beginning of August.
Asked in Arizona whether, given the new projections, it was the appropriate time to shutter the task force, Trump pointed to the economy.
“We can’t keep our country closed for the next five years,” Trump said. “You could say there will be a recurrence and there might be. Most doctors and some doctors say it will happen and it’ll be a flame and we’ll put the flame out.”