President Trump announces plans to disband coronavirus task force
5 May 2020, 22:48
President Trump has announced that a "different group" will replace the White House coronavirus task force.
Mr Trump made the announcement on a visit to the Honeywell face mask factory in Phoenix, Arizona.
He said the group 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," he continued.
The current task force consists of politicians and health and disease experts and has existed since January.
When asked if reporters will still be briefed by experts, Mr Trump responded: "No, not at all. The mission accomplished is when it's over".
Earlier on Tuesday, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany hit back at suggestion that the scientific community is being sidelined by the US government.
"Reporting on the task force is being misconstrued to suggest the White House is no longer involving medical experts. This is totally false," she tweeted.
"President Donald Trump will continue his data-driven approach towards safely re-opening."
According to US media, some members of the task force found out through news reports that the group will be disbanded.
Reporting on the task force is being misconstrued to suggest the White House is no longer involving medical experts. This is totally false.— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) May 5, 2020
President @realDonaldTrump will continue his data-driven approach towards safely re-opening.
It comes after US Vice-President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that the coronavirus task force could be disbanded in the coming weeks because of the country's "tremendous progress".
He told reporters the task force may hand over US pandemic response to be led on an "agency-by-agency level" by the end of May or early June.
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.
It comes as the US coronavirus death toll has surpassed 70,000.
President Trump also spoke of his wish to restart the US economy as soon as possible.
Speaking to ABC News, he said: “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.”
“I’m viewing our great citizens of this country to a certain extent and to a large extent as warriors.”
“It’s possible there will be some” deaths, the president said, "but we have to get our country back.”