By Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his White House coronavirus task force would remain in place but with a focus on medical treatments and easing restrictions on businesses and social life and perhaps with different advisers.
On Tuesday, Trump had said he planned to wind down the task force and replace it with “something in a different form” as the country shifts into a new phase focusing on the aftermath of the outbreak. He also acknowledged then that “some people” might be hit hard by a resurgence of the virus.
“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,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday as he toured a face-mask factory in Arizona, where he defied infection-control guidelines by not wearing a mask himself.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Trump said that because of its success, “the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN. We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics.”
The task force to date has included medical professionals focused on battling the pandemic, some of whom have at times offered guidance at odds with Trump’s.
Trump told reporters on Tuesday: “We’re now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we’ll – we’ll have a different group probably set up for that.”
Trump praised the task force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, for having brought together resources including a supply of ventilators. Pence was scheduled to lead the group’s meeting at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) at the White House.
(Reporting and writing by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Howard Goller)