- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2020

President Trump said Wednesday the White House coronavirus task force will continue on “indefinitely” a day after Vice President Mike Pence signaled it could wind down by the end of the month.

Mr. Trump touted the task force’s work on helping secure needed supplies like ventilators, protective masks and shields.

“Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN,” the president said on Twitter. “We may add or subtract people…to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!”

The task force is headed by Mr. Pence, who signaled on Tuesday that it could wind down by around Memorial Day.

Asked about the turnabout Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he didn’t realize how much the public appreciated the group.

“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,” he said in an Oval Office event for National Nurses Day.

“I get calls from very respected people saying, ‘I think it would be better to keep it going, it’s done such a good job,’” Mr. Trump said. “It’s a respected task force. I know it myself. I didn’t know whether or not it was appreciated by the public but it is appreciated by the public.”

He said the White House will add two or three members to the task force, though “at a certain point we won’t need the task force.”

Mr. Trump on Tuesday had signaled he would wind things down “because we can’t keep our country closed for the next five years.”

The president had said Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the public health faces of the team, would remain involved regardless.

“As far as the task force, Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job,” he said Tuesday. “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.”

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this story.

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