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Monday, December 09, 2019

Contagion Rages On, But Trump Is Disbanding Virus Task Force

@EoinHiggins_

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump's coronavirus taskforce is winding down, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday, with operations expected to conclude by June 1—the very same day an internal document from the Centers for Disease Control predicts will mark a doubling of daily deaths from the disease.

"They are just going to declare victory, let thousands die, and hope nobody cares too much," tweeted journalist Jack Mirkinson.


The New York Timesbroke the news Tuesday afternoon, reporting that the committee's "gradual demise, which officials said might never be formally announced, would only intensify the questions about whether the administration is adequately organized to address the complex, life-and-death decisions related to the virus and giving adequate voice to scientists and public health experts in making policy."

Pence confirmed the report to the press later Tuesday, saying that the taskforce would aim to end its mission by Memorial Day or June 1 and delegate managing the outbreak to federal agencies.

"It really is all a reflection of the tremendous progress we've made as a country," Pence said of the taskforce's closure.

As of press time, 1.22 million Americans were confirmed infected with the disease and 71,148 had died. The death toll is expected rise, according to internal CDC projections published by news outlets on Monday, which showed the daily death rate could increase from its current 1,700 to 3,000 by June 1.

"Mission Abandoned," tweeted writer Craig Mazin.

Though the White House is wrapping up the taskforce's efforts, a "shadow" group run by presidential advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner will remain in place. That committee, which is expected to continue operations, is reportedly being run by inexperienced volunteer staffers.

According to the Washington Post:

About two dozen employees from Boston Consulting Group, Insight, McKinsey, and other firms have volunteered their time—some on paid vacation leave from their jobs and others without pay—to aid the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to administration officials and others familiar with the arrangement.
Although some of the volunteers have relevant backgrounds and experience, many others were poorly matched with the jobs they were assigned, including those given the task of securing personal protective equipment, or PPE, for hospitals nationwide, according to a complaint filed last month with the House Oversight Committee.

The volunteers are expected to prioritize communicating with Trump allies, including Fox News personalities with ties to the White House like Brian Kilmeade and Jeanine Pirro.

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