Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks as President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence listen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Wednesday that the White House's coronavirus task force will continue "indefinitely" but move to focus on "safety & opening up our country."

Why it matters: Trump noted that the administration may seek to "add or subtract people ... as appropriate" — adding to concerns that the White House could oust medical officials as it seeks to reframe the pandemic as an economic crisis.

The state of play: Vice President Pence told reporters that the White House was in "preliminary discussions" to wind the task force down on Tuesday.

  • A senior administration official told Axios that any change to the task force "does NOT mean doctors are being removed from the equation or being pushed out."
  • "Members of the Pence-led task force will continue providing input, though the group will not be meeting in person as regularly as the focus changes toward vaccines, therapeutics, testing, and ultimately reopening the economy," the official added.
  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also tweeted: "Reporting on the task force is being misconstrued to suggest the White House is no longer involving medical experts. This is totally false."

What he's saying: "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 wrote in a series of tweets.

  • "Because of this 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," he added.

Go deeper

Fauci's guidance on pre-vaccine coronavirus treatments

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Antibody drugs and various medicine cocktails against the coronavirus are progressing and may provide some relief before vaccines.

The big picture: Everyone wants to know how and when they can return to "normal" life, as vaccines are not expected to be ready for most Americans for at least a year. Two therapies are known to be helpful, and more could be announced by late September, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.

House Democrats to investigate scientist leading "Operation Warp Speed"

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) on July 31. Photo: Erin Scott/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats on the committee charged with overseeing the federal government's response to the coronavirus announced an investigation Thursday into "Operation Warp Speed," the Trump administration's efforts to accelerate the development and distribution of a vaccine.

Why it matters: In an effort to quickly distribute a vaccine, the Trump administration has bought initial batches from a handful of pharmaceutical companies before knowing whether they are safe and effective, Axios' Bob Herman reports.

Aug 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden calls for 3-month national mask mandate: "Be a patriot"

Joe Biden called on governors to issue a three-month mandatory outdoor mask mandate on Thursday, telling reporters after receiving a coronavirus briefing that experts say it could save over 40,000 lives.

Why it matters: Biden was more aggressive and specific than he has been in previous calls to wear a mask, arguing that it will allow children to return to school sooner, businesses to reopen and help "get our country back on track."

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