One day after saying that the COVID-19 task force would be winding down, President Trump said Wednesday that it would continue indefinitely, but focus more on rebooting the economy. Trump tweeted that the panel's focus would be on "SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN." Trump's reversal comes as deaths and infection rates outside of New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus, are rising, even as states move to lift their lockdowns, the AP reports. A White House official acknowledged Wednesday morning that signaling that the task force was preparing to shut down sent the wrong message and created a media maelstrom.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal thinking, said the membership in the task force group would change as the nature of the crisis evolves. On Tuesday, Trump had praised the task force for doing a great job but he added, "We're now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we'll—we'll have a different group probably set up for that." His tweet on Wednesday said "the Task Force will continue on indefinitely." He added that the White House "may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics."