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Trump to Fauci: Why Don't We Let Virus 'Wash Over' Country?

'WaPo' details all the White House's competing task forces to deal with COVID-19
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2020 9:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Trump administration's response to the pandemic is led by its main task force, run by Vice President Mike Pence. Then there's the new Opening Our Country Council, which is charged with reopening the economy. And there's Jared Kushner's shadow group, which apparently jumps in here and there. Still another group has emerged, the Washington Post reports: six doctors who meet on their own almost daily. That cadre grew out of frustration with what one official called "the voodoo" espoused in the task force's daily briefings, such as President Trump's endorsement of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment. That group is led by Deborah Birx. The layering and overlapping of groups has only complicated the administration's response, by creating a series of competing forces with often-different goals—but no clear strategy for dealing with the pandemic.

For example, a subset of the main task force, a supply-chain unit, has favored large corporations over small ones, even those with a strong record of helping in emergencies. The unit, under the sway of Kushner, has created a complex new emergency response system. Operating secretly and with little accountability, the group has produced confusion and distrust among the states and the people needing supplies, per NBC. Some in the administration just want to reopen the country. "They already know what they want to do and they're looking for ways to do it," a senior official told the Post. Trump suggested one strategy to the task force last month: letting the virus run through the country, leaving the survivors with immunity. "Why don’t we let this wash over the country?" he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci. "Mr. President, many people would die," Fauci told him. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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