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

White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Staff in the Executive Office of the President will be subject to mandatory coronavirus tests, in efforts to "protect the health and safety of the entire White House Complex," CNBC reports.

  • Why it matters: Multiple people in the White House have tested positive for COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, including President Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien last week.

What they're saying: “As part of our ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of the entire White House Complex, randomized testing of Executive Office of the President staff, which has been ongoing for several months, will become mandatory rather than voluntary," a White House official said Monday.

Trump: Coronavirus is "under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.

Fauci: Schools can reopen with safeguards, but those in virus hot spots shouldn't

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at Capitol Hill in July. Photo Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Monday schools and colleges should be able to reopen for in-person classes, but they must take precautions to ensure the safety of students and teachers during the pandemic, per CNN.

Of note: Students benefit psychologically from being in a classroom, Fauci said. The American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated for in-person classes resuming, noting in a statement the mental health benefits of doing so. "[T]here is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020."