As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States continues to rise, surpassing 1.2 million Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump has announced that the White House coronavirus task force will continue "indefinitely." In a series of tweets, the president said that the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, will focus on safety and reopening the country, among other things.
"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," the president wrote in a series of tweets. "Ventilators, which were few & in bad shape, are now being 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, gloves, gowns etc. are now plentiful. The last four Governors teleconference calls have been conclusively strong."
"Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN," he announced. "We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!"
The announcement came just after reports surfaced that the president was looking to begin "winding down" the task force this month. According to The New York Times, the president confirmed the news during a tour of a Honeywell factory on Tuesday, telling reporters that his administration was "looking at Phase 2" of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which would include disbanding the task force. He added that "we will have something in a different form" in place of the task force and that "we can't keep our country closed for the next five years."
Such news had earlier been hinted at by Pence, who said that he believed conversations were being had "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 said that such discussions were "a reflection of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country."
The White House coronavirus task force was formed in late January to aid in the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Along with Pence, the current task force consists of Dr. Deborah Birx and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.