The White House coronavirus task force is set to wind down in the weeks ahead as the administration looks to shift focus from the day-to-day public health response toward an economic reopening of the country, multiple senior officials told ABC News Tuesday.
Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that there are discussions underway about disbanding the coronavirus task force.
“We’re having conversations about that,” Pence told a group of reporters, his spokesperson confirmed.
“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,” the vice president said.
In this April 4, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, in Washington.In this April 4, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, in Washington.Patrick Semansky/AP, FILEMORE: Coronavirus government response updates: White House task force winding down, officials confirm, as Trump lands in Arizona
“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,” he added.
The news was first reported by the New York Times.
President Trump has shown an eagerness for the country to get back to work, expressing optimism that the virus can be successfully contained even as the country begins to return to normal functions.
The move comes as the rate of new infections continues to rise in much of the country, even as some early U.S. hotspots have begun to bring the virus under control.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks while sitting next to Deborah Birx, during a meeting with President Donald Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 29, 2020.Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks while sitting next to Deborah Birx, during a meeting with President Donald Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 29, 2020.Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty ImagesMORE: Trump's reopening push at odds with new 100K death toll prediction, new draft projections
A senior White House official stressed the move does not mean that the doctors — like Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci — are being pushed out, adding that they will still be involved and advising the administration.
“Members of the Pence-led task force will continue providing input, though the group will not be meeting in person as regularly as the focus changes toward vaccines, therapeutics, testing, and ultimately re-opening the economy,” the senior White House official said.
“Again, to emphasize, doctors will still be providing consultation as we respond to the pandemic. At the same time, the task force was always a temporary arrangement and was never designed for the Vice President to be leading in person meetings daily for several months on end.”
Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a news conference on the novel coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 27, 2020.Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a news conference on the novel coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 27, 2020.Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty ImagesMORE: Ahead of confirmation hearing, former White House lawyer picked to oversee pandemic relief vows 'independence'
The White House coronavirus task force was formally announced on Jan. 29. The group, led by Vice President Pence, meets almost daily in the White House Situation Room.
During the first two months of the crisis, the task briefed reporters nearly every day, sometimes for nearly two hours or more, about the coronavirus developments.
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