US President Donald Trump has confirmed the White House coronavirus task force will be winding down, with Vice-President Mike Pence suggesting it could be disbanded within weeks.
“We will have something in a different form,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he toured a Honeywell mask manufacturing plant in Arizona, where he wore safety goggles but no mask. The president praised the work of the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, but said it was time to focus on safety and reopening the country.
Despite growing evidence that the pandemic is still raging, President Trump and other administration officials said on Tuesday that they had made so much progress in bringing it under control that they planned to wind down the coronavirus task force in the coming weeks and focus the White House on restarting the economy.
New confirmed infections per day in the US currently top 20,000, and daily deaths exceed 1,000.
US health officials warn the virus may spread as businesses begin to reopen, Media reported.
The US currently has 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 70,000 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, which is tracking the pandemic.
During a visit to the plant in Phoenix after weeks holed up at the White House, Mr Trump told journalists: “Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, 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.”
Critics have accused the president of sacrificing Americans’ public health in his eagerness to reopen the US economy ahead of his re-election battle in November.
Acknowledging a human cost to the plans, Mr Trump told reporters: “I’m not saying anything is perfect, and yes, will some people be affected? Yes.
“Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”