Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on Tuesday that the White House is in "preliminary discussions" to wind down its coronavirus task force, possibly in early June.

Why it matters: The task force, led by Pence, was formed in late January to help navigate the Trump administration's interagency response to the pandemic. The New York Times reported earlier Tuesday that it's not clear whether any group will replace the task force, even as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. continues to surge.

  • President Trump stopped hosting daily task force press briefings after internal polling suggesting that his favorability was taking a hit.
  • Public health officials on the task force like Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci have at times been forced to contradict Trump's false claims about the virus, creating a media spectacle.

What they're saying:

"I think we’re having conversations about that and about what the proper time is for the task force to complete its work and for the ongoing efforts to take place on an agency-by-agency level.  And we’ve already begun to talk about a transition plan with FEMA. But it’s — it really is all a reflection of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.
The President stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force to marshal -- in January — to marshal a national response. And as I’ve said before, as we continue to practice social distancing and states engage in safe and responsible reopening plans, I truly believe — and the trend lines support it — that we could be in a very different place."
— Pence to reporters

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also tweeted Tuesday: "Reporting on the task force is being misconstrued to suggest the White House is no longer involving medical experts. This is totally false."

  • "President Trump will continue his data-driven approach towards safely re-opening," she added.

Between the lines: A senior administration official tells Axios, "To be clear: this is about the Pence-led task force that meets every day. This group winding down and meeting less frequently 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 re-opening the economy."

The big picture: States are beginning to reopen parts of their economies based on federal guidance released by the task force.

  • Health experts caution that moving too quickly could cause a spike in cases in some regions, even as the outbreak in New York begins to subside.
  • The U.S. currently has nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and a death toll of over 70,000.

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours — the largest single-day number since May. French officials said the situation was "clearly worsening," per France 24.

By the numbers: Over 745,600 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and over 20.4 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. Almost 12.7 million have recovered from the virus.

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 20,456,016 — Total deaths: 745,600— Total recoveries: 12,663,206Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,190,948 — Total deaths: 165,883 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says Mnuchin told her White House is "not budging" on stimulus position.
  4. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits.
  5. Public health: America's two-sided COVID-19 response America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.
  6. Education: New Jersey governor allows schools to reopenGallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.
Aug 12, 2020 - Health

Fauci says he "seriously" doubts Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe

NIAID director Anthony Fauci testifies during a July congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Kevin DietschI/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci cast doubt during a National Geographic discussion due to air this week on the effectiveness of Russia's registered coronavirus vaccine touted by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "Having a vaccine ... and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things," Fauci told told ABC News' Deborah Roberts in the discussion, expected to air on Thursday. His comments add to the weight of skepticism from scientists around the world on the Russia vaccine. There is no published scientific to support support Putin's claims.