The White House Coronavirus Task Force may be phased out in the upcoming weeks, as states across the country struggle to curb infection rates amid economic reopenings.
President Donald Trump addressed the move during his Tuesday stop at a mask factory in Phoenix. POTUS praised Vice President Mike Pence, the chairman of the task force, and other members for the way they've handled the crisis. He then suggested the team would be replaced by "a different group" that would focus on how to safely revive the economy.
"We have now a different, a sort of a combination of safety and reopening. So we'll have something in a different form ..., " Trump said. "Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we're now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we'll have a different group probably set up for that ... I think we are looking at Phase 2, and we’re looking at other phases."
Trump was then asked if Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx would be still be involved in the White House's efforts to address the global health crisis. The president insisted they would, along with other doctors and experts in the field.
Dr. Fauci, however, told CBS News that there were no plans to wind down the task force: "That’s not true, I’ve been in every task force meeting, and that’s not what they are doing."
As reported by the New York Times, Pence confirmed Tuesday that there were discussions about dissolving the task force sometime within the next month, with the goal of wrapping up the team's work by early June.
A senior administration official told CNN that the White House was looking to phase out the task force, as it is now shifting its focus in the battle against COVID-19.
"Members of the task force will continue providing input... but will not be meeting as regularly as the focus changes toward vaccines, therapeutics, testing, and ultimately reopening the economy," the official said. "Keep in mind the task force was always a temporary arrangement. Health experts will continue providing input even while not meeting together every day."