On Wednesday President Trump said that he had eased off the plans to dissolve the White House coronavirus task force after significant public outcry, he said he was unaware of how “popular” the group comprising of medical experts and government leaders was.
“I thought we could wind it down sooner,” Trump said to reporters during an Oval Office event recognizing National Nurses Day. “But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday when I started talking about winding down. … It is appreciated by the public.”
Trump explained that he received calls from “very respected people” who urged him to keep the task force intact.
The president did say that he might add a few more members to the task force, though he failed to mention any names, indicating that the White House might still pivot the task force to focus on the reopening of the economy.
Trump said the task force will eventually cease to exist, but he hinted that it would not be until the pandemic has subsided.
“At a certain point we won’t need a task force, but we’re going to leave that,” he said. “We’re going to add a couple of people to it and that will again be for the opening of our country.”
Later Trump said to the press, during a meeting with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, that Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, the top two public health officials on the task force, would continue their work with the group.
“I think that, as far as the task force, Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job,” Trump said Tuesday in Arizona. “But we’re now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we’ll have a different group probably set up for that.”
Pence on Tuesday told reporters that he was eyeing Memorial Day as a potential timeline for when the task force would wind down.
However, the decision inspired an intense and immediate backlash among lawmakers and public health experts alike, who expressed exasperation at the timing. New coronavirus cases and deaths are still rising steadily in the U.S., experts expect a surge in the upcoming weeks as states lift and ease restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus.