White House: No, We Aren’t Shutting Out Medical Experts on the Wuhan Coronavirus Taskforce

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Posted: May 05, 2020 5:30 PM
White House: No, We Aren’t Shutting Out Medical Experts on the Wuhan Coronavirus Taskforce

Source: (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The White House is pushing back on reports President Donald Trump plans to remove medical experts like Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx from the Wuhan coronavirus task force. 

While specific members will not be individually removed, Vice President Mike Pence did say Tuesday that the administration could close down the official task force by June. From the White House press pool:

Q: The New York Times is reporting that White House officials had told members of the task force that the task force will be wound down and that there’s won’t necessarily be another group to replace it.  Is that accurate, that you’ve been told that it’s being -- that it’s winding down?

Q:  In the next few weeks?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  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.  And we’ve already begun to talk about a transition plan with FEMA.  

 But it’s -- it really is all a reflection of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.  The President stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force to marshal -- in January -- to marshal a national response. 

And as I’ve said before, as we continue to practice social distancing and states engage in safe and responsible reopening plans, I truly believe -- and the trend lines support it -- that we could be in a very different place.  And by late May and early June -- and that probably represents the timetable for our agencies -

Q: Will Dr. Birx -- is Dr. Birx going to stick around --

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  -- to begin the --

Q: -- even though it’s wound down?

 THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to keep Dr. Deborah Birx around every bit as long as we need to.

 Q: Did you say early June?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Say again?

Q: Did you say early June? THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think we’re starting to look at the Memorial Day window, early June window as a time when we could begin to transition back to having our agencies begin to manage -- begin to manage our national response in a more traditional manner.

According to Reuters, the response will move to federal agencies and states. 

Pence said President Donald Trump’s administration was starting to look at the Memorial Day window of time at the end of the month to begin transitioning to having agencies manage the coronavirus response in a more traditional manner.

Administration officials are telling task force members and their staff to expect the group to wind down within weeks.