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White House discussing phasing out the coronavirus task force

Vice President Mike Pence says the administration is considering shifting pandemic response to federal agencies around early June.

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence says the White House coronavirus task force could wind down its work by early June.

Pence told reporters at a White House briefing on Tuesday that the U.S. could be “in a very different place” by late May and early June. Pence says the administration is beginning to eye the Memorial Day to early June window as the appropriate time to have federal agencies manage the pandemic response in a more traditional way.

He added that they've already begun to talk about a transition plan with FEMA. 

Pence’s comments came as an Associated Press analysis found infection rates rising even as states start to lift their lockdowns.

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The vice president characterized the discussions as preliminary.

"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," Pence proclaimed. 

Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force coordinator, says the federal government will still keep a close eye on the data when if the task force disbands.

"It took us a while to build that capacity. And we’ll make sure that, you know, we’re watching that at a federal level," Birx said. 

Following a roundtable discussion with Native Americans in Phoenix, Trump applauded the work of the task force. 

"Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job," Trump said. "But we're now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening, and we'll have a different group probably set up for that.

Credit: AP
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx listens as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Gov. John Bel Edwards, D-La., about the coronavirus response, in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, April 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)