The White House coronavirus task force won’t wind down in the near future, President Donald Trump said Wednesday, though members could be removed.
Trump praised the group, which is headed by Vice President Mike Pence and includes Surgeon General Jerome Adams, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Deborah Birx.
The task force “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,” he said, singling out their work on ventilators and personal protective equipment like face masks.
“Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN,” Trump said in a social media statement, in addition to vaccines and possible treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a coronavirus from China.
Trump said he and Pence might add or subtract members when they feel it’s appropriate.
He told reporters later that he thought officials could “wind it down sooner.”
“But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday when I started talking about winding down,” he added.
Pence told reporters Tuesday that the task force could wind down by June.
“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 in an off-camera briefing.
Trump formed the task force in January, initially placing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in charge.
Members have given near-daily updates on the U.S. response to the virus, both at the White House and elsewhere. The group hasn’t given a briefing since April 27, though members like Fauci continue to appear on cable news networks.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called reports suggesting the White House is no longer involving medical experts “totally false.”
Trump “will continue his data-driven approach towards safely re-opening,” she added.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.