Coronavirus: Trump admits he wanted to close task force but U-turned because it is ‘popular’

Donald Trump contended on Wednesday that he chose to keep the White House coronavirus task force alive despite internal discussions about terminating it because he realized it was very popular.

“I thought we could wind it down sooner. But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday when I started talking about winding down. It is appreciated by the public,” the president said, appearing to have consumed media reports criticizing him for saying on Tuesday he might end the group.

But he told reporters in the Oval Office the group eventually will be disbanded, though he likely will add two or three unnamed members in the meantime.

Influential Democratic legislators had slammed his Wednesday signaling he would terminate the task force.

“At a time when his own administration is predicting a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, our ‘stable genius’ president is winding down his coronavirus task force,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont tweeted.

Additionally, the president claimed he intended to wear a mask a day earlier while touring a Honeywell mask facility, but the company’s boss convinced him the facility was coronavirus-free.

“I had a mask on for a period of time. .... We were far away from people,” the president told reporters. “I did put a mask on” but not for “too long,” Mr. Trump added before saying he wore one “backstage.”

But, speaking of masks and other protective equipment, one of Mr. Trump’s invited guests to sign a proclamation honoring nurses, contradicted his contention that hospitals have the gear they need to keep medical professionals have what they need.

“Certainly, there are pockets of areas where PPE is not ideal but this is an unprecedented time, and the infection control measures that we learned back when we went to school -- one gown, one mask for one patient a day or for a time -- this is a different time,” said Sophia Thomas, American Association of Nurse Practitioners president who works in New Orleans. “I’ve been reusing my N95 mask for a few weeks now. I just broke out a new one to come here in case I needed to wear it.”

The president appeared to send a message to the protestors -- some wearing his campaign merchandise and some carrying assault rifles -- who have stormed state capitals trying to pressure governors to end their stay-at-home orders.

“I don’t think people will stand for it,” he said of the coronavirus lockdown continuing possibly for several more months. “The country won’t stand for it. It’s not sustainable.”

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