Trump backtracked on the decision to dissolve the task force while thousands of Americans continue to die from COVID-19 each day.
Donald Trump on Wednesday suddenly backtracked on a decision to start disbanding the country's coronavirus task force, tweeting that he will keep the task force up and running "indefinitely" to focus on "SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN."
"The White House CoronaVirus Task Force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, has done a fantastic job of bringing together vast highly complex resources that have set a high standard for others to follow in the future," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, adding the task force "will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics."
Trump's decision to continue the task force came less than 24 hours after reports began surfacing that he planned to start dissolving it — even as the virus continues to spread and kill thousands of people in the United States each day.
Pence confirmed the decision to end the coronavirus task force Tuesday, telling reporters that the administration was "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."
Later that day, Trump went on to defend that plan, saying at an event in Arizona, "We can't keep our country closed for the next five years."
The comment was met with public backlash.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said it's "unthinkable that POTUS would shut down the main task force established to coordinate our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic."
"It is a shameful abdication of responsibility," Hoyer tweeted.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, echoed those sentiments.
"Once again, the Trump Administration is taking a premature victory lap by considering disbanding the coronavirus task force despite the fact that cases continue to increase in some parts of the country," Engel tweeted Tuesday night.
As he announced he was backtracking on the decision to break up the task force, Trump praised his administration's response to the virus, repeating a lie that the United States is "doing more testing than all other countries combined," and that hospitals are well stocked with personal protective equipment and life-saving ventilators.
Experts, however, say the United States' testing capabilities are still far below where they need to be in order to safely reopen the economy.
And governors are still reporting that the federal government is trying to seize orders of tests and protective equipment destined for hospitals in their states, even though Trump had told them that states were responsible for procuring it themselves.
To date, more than 70,650 people have died from the coronavirus, according to the Washington Post. On Tuesday, the day reports surfaced that Trump was going to wind down the task force, 2,416 people died from the virus, according to the same tally.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.