Trump says U.S. coronavirus task force to continue "indefinitely" with possible personnel changes

2020-05-07 01:05:29Xinhua Editor : Zhao Yuning ECNS App Download

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the White House Coronavirus Task Force will continue "indefinitely" with possible personnel changes, one day after officials hinted that the team would wind down.

The task force "will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN," Trump tweeted, adding that the administration "may add or subtract people to it."

He also said the response team will focus on developing vaccines and therapeutics for the coronavirus.

Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the task force, said Tuesday that "conversations are being had about winding down the work for the task force," and that the White House is looking at the Memorial Day -- which falls on May 25 -- as a possible "window."

The vice president made the remarks in a briefing in response to a question about a New York Times report on the potential disbanding of the team.

"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 told reporters, adding that talks were ongoing about a transition plan with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The possible adjustment to the task force, whose members include the U.S. top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, comes at a time when confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States rose beyond 1.2 million, with the death toll surpassing 71,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Citing an internal document acquired from FEMA, the New York Times earlier reported that daily coronavirus-related deaths in the country could nearly double to reach about 3,000 by June 1. It also predicted that new cases will probably average at 200,000 a day by the end of May, up from the current daily rate of about 25,000.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement on Monday that the document had nothing to do with the White House, "nor has it been presented to the coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting."


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