Trump makes U-turn on disbanding coronavirus task force: 'I had no idea how popular it is'
The president and his deputy Mike Pence gave a hint that the task force will be shut down and the focus will be more on reopening the country. Now Trump tweeted that the group will 'continue on indefinitely'
President Donald Trump on Wednesday, May 6, reiterated his new stance of continuing with the coronavirus task force saying it is very popular with the people of America in the times of the pandemic, something he didn't realize earlier.
It was just a day ago that both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence gave hints that the special group would be winded down and the focus will be shifted more to issues like reopening.
The president also conceded before the press that he backed down on disbanding the task force led by Pence following an outcry over the announcement of his closure.
"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 down," Trump told reporters during an event with nurses on the occasion of the National Nurses Day at the Oval Office. "I knew it myself and it is appreciated by the public," he added.
On Tuesday, May 5, Pence, who has led the task force since its creation in January, said the White House has taken an initiative to shut down the group soon and transfer its responsibilities to other government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The announcement came even when there were little signs that the pandemic is subsiding in the country. Trump also gave a similar hint on the same day. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted to say the group will "continue on indefinitely" and shift its focus on vaccines and therapeutics.
Trump's controversial coronavirus press briefings
The coronavirus task force has seen several controversial instances at its press briefings over the last few months.
While Trump's clashes with reporters over uncomfortable questions related to the pandemic have been a regular feature, his own bizarre claims or open differences with the experts were other moments that brought the press talks to the limelight.
Last month, Trump even bragged that his press briefings were challenging the best of TV shows in terms of popularity. However, only days later, he said the briefings were not worth the effort after his campaign team told him that they were hurting his re-election bid.
The president also asked the countrymen to be "warriors" while justifying his move to reopen the economy which has led to a wide polarization in the US. The president is desperate to reopen the country because an extended lockdown will further hurt the economy, which in turn will endanger his re-election bid due in November.
However, a number of Democrat-governed states are not in agreement with the rushed opening. The president has been saying from the beginning that the cure could not be allowed to be more damaging than the pandemic itself.
When asked if Americans will have to accept the idea that by reopening now, the country will witness more deaths, Trump told reporters: "You have to be warriors, we can't keep our country closed down for years and we have to do something. Hopefully, that won't be the case, but it could very well be the case."
He said he would add two or three members to the task force by next week, saying there was a ‘whole list of people’ who want to be a part of the group. He said the White House would announce names by Monday, May 11.
“We have a whole list of people that want to be on and we have a whole list of people that we want, and nobody -- I will say this. Nobody has ever turned me down to be on the task force. No one has turned me down for anything."
"And everybody wants to be on everything we do. It's very important we will be announcing I would say by Monday, I would say two or three more members of the task force," he added.
The US is the worst-affected country in the world with over 1.2M confirmed cases. More than 73,000 people have died. Besides, at least 30M people have lost their jobs in the pandemic.
The US leadership has blasted China saying the latter was at fault for not doing enough to contain the outbreak despite knowing about it before anybody else.
Pandemic worst attack in US history
The commander-in-chief said that the pandemic is the worst attack that America has faced in its history, worse than the Pearl Harbor attacks during the Second World War (1941) and the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.
"We went through the worst attack we've ever had in our country. This is really the worst attack we've ever had. This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There's never been an attack like this," he said.
While over 2,400 people died in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, nearly 3,000 died in the 9/11 attacks. However, the US saw more than 670,000 people dying from the Spanish flu in the late 1910s.