On Tuesday, the Trump administration revealed that the White House coronavirus task force will begin "winding down" this month. According to a report by The New York Times, President Donald Trump confirmed the news himself during a tour of a Honeywell plant in Arizona, which has been repurposed to manufacture masks. The president did not wear a mask himself, as he said that the White House's response to COVID-19 will continue "in a different form."
Trump told reporters that his administration is "looking at Phase 2" of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which will involve disbanding his task force. He said that Dr. Deborah L. Birx and other public health experts would still be involved in combating the outbreak but in a different way. This confirms early reports, including one by USA Today where Vice President Mike Pence hinted that the task force would soon be shutting down.
"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," Pence said. "And as I've said before, as we continue to practice social distancing and states engage in safe and responsible reopening plans, I truly believe – and the trend lines support it – that we could be in a very different place, and by late May and early June – and that probably represents the timetable for our agencies."
Pence was chosen as the head of the coronavirus task force back in January — a controversial appointment from the beginning, considering Pence's record on public health as the governor of Indiana. Since then, the actions of both Pence and the task force in general have drawn a lot of criticism. While the White House has not specified what "Phase 2" of its coronavirus response will be, the president has continued to hint that he favors dropping restrictions of all kinds, despite his administration's official recommendations.
"I'm viewing our great citizens of this country to a certain extent and to a large extent as warriors. They're warriors," Trump said on Tuesday. "We have to open our country. Will some people be affected, badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open."
Experts say that the coronavirus death toll could reach as high as 3,000 Americans per day by June 1, totaling as much as 100,000 people. They say that social distancing is still the best method to lower this figure, but Trump and other public officials still claim that the economic effects of the social distancing could be worse in some way. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization.