White House winding down coronavirus task force

Vice President Pence's office says plan is to scale back the coronavirus task force's role by Memorial Day.

Ben Ariel ,

Trump leads daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House
Trump leads daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House

The White House is in the early stages of winding down its coronavirus task force, Vice President Mike Pence's office said on Tuesday, according to The Hill.

Pence's office told reporters at a limited briefing that his plan is to scale back the task force's role by Memorial Day. Pence has been leading the task force since late February.

Members are likely to return to their respective departments and manage the coronavirus response from there.

"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 at the briefing, according to The Hill. "And we've already begun to talk about a transition plan with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency]."

"It really is all a reflection of the tremendous progress we've made as a country," he added.

Deborah Birx, who was brought in from the State Department to coordinate the White House virus response, will "continue to review and analyze data and work with the departments in agencies to help that data inform their decision-making processes," a spokesman for Pence's office said.

The New York Times first reported on the expected demise of the task force.

The task force was formed in late January and held near-daily press briefings for more than a month, but has been less visible in recent weeks as President Donald Trump and others transition their focus to the economic consequences of the pandemic.

The US surpassed 60,000 domestic deaths from the novel coronavirus last week, a day after it recorded its one millionth coronavirus case.

The country has by far the highest death toll of any country in the global pandemic.

A forecast published on Tuesday projects nearly 135,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States through the beginning of August, mainly due to reopening measures under way.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump said that his administration is confident the United States will have a vaccine for the novel coronavirus by the end of the year.

“We think we are going to have a vaccine by the end of this year,” Trump said during a virtual Fox News town hall.