White House Coronavirus Task Force to stay for now, says Trump

Lalit K Jha

Washington, May 7 (PTI) The White House Coronavirus Task Force is going to stay for now and new members would be added to it, US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, a day after he had said it would be closed down.

'We are keeping the task force for a period of time. I look forward to when we can close the task force, because then the job will be essentially hopefully over,' said Trump, who had established the task force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, in January.

'The task force has done a great job and I had a meeting yesterday, I had a meeting this morning probably even more importantly, and so we will be leaving the task force indefinitely,' the president told reporters a day after he and Pence said it would be closed by next month.

But there was a general opposition to this move.

'I thought we 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 it down. I would get calls from very respected people, saying I think it would be better to keep it going, it has done such a good job, it is a respected task force,' Trump said.

'You know at a certain point it will end like things end, but we will be adding some people to the task force and they will be more in the neighbourhood probably of opening our country up, because our country has to get open again and the people wanted it to be open. But we have to open it up safely, so we will be adding two or three additional members to the task force,' he said at a White House event recognising National Nurses Day.

'There may be one or two that will be less involved that were more involved with the original formation of the ventilator and the ventilator systems, but if they want to stay, they can, because they really did a fantastic job. So, at a certain point, we will not need the task force, but we are going to leave that. We are going to add a couple of people to it and that will lead again before the opening of our country,' the president said.

Two of its top health officials, Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx, would continue to be members of the task force, Trump told reporters at another White House event with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

The task force, he said, will be around until the administration feels it is not necessary.

'I will say that I learned yesterday, even after I spoke that the task force is something you know, it is very respected. People said we should keep it going, so let's keep it going and so we will be doing that, but we will be adding some people to it,' the president said. PTI LKJ RC