The Donald Trump White House appears to be on the cusp of making major changes on how it manages the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to statements reportedly made by Vice President Mike Pence. As reported by CNBC and multiple other outlets, the vice president told reporters on Tuesday that the Trump administration has held internal discussions about scaling back and, eventually, disbanding its coronavirus task force.
“We’re having a conversation about that and about what the proper time is for the task force to complete its work,” the vice president reportedly said to members of the media during an off-camera briefing.
Per the CNBC report, Pence indicated that the Trump administration is looking to transition the handling of the pandemic to governmental departments and federal agencies, a process that could be conducted in early June.
The White House’s coronavirus task force was first established on January 29. Nearly one month later, Pence was tapped by President Trump to be the group’s chairman. Other members include the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and other medical experts, cabinet members, and advisors.
Since its inception, the task force has acted as an advisory board for the president and has coordinated the American response to the COVID-19 pandemic, spearheading efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and its effects on U.S. citizens, the healthcare system, national security, and the economy. Pence’s statements on the group’s future come as multiple states have taken steps to ease restrictions on commerce and reopen businesses and public spaces, decisions that critics argue could exacerbate the COVID-19 spread.
Per the May 5 numbers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has reached nearly 1.2 million in the U.S., with more than 68,000 dead. Monday marked the lowest number of new confirmed cases since late March. However, the U.S. has yet to see a sustained downward trend in the number of new cases reported daily.
It’s also possible that the U.S. has yet to see its worst days. As reported by The Inquisitr, a New York Times report citing internal Trump administration documentation says that models project a sharp rise in COVID-19 deaths as a result of states re-opening.
For his part, Fauci has gone on record saying that there are no plans to wind down the task force as it exists currently. CBS News White House Correspondent Paula Reid reported via Twitter that she had spoken to Fauci via phone about the proposed transitioning and he maintained that he had heard no such thing.
So, if conversations have been held as the vice president is reported to have claimed, Fauci seemingly hasn’t been part of them.