The White House has taken greater control over official messages on the coronavirus from government health officials following the vice president’s appointment to lead the U.S. response to the outbreak, The New York Times reports.
President Donald Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S. response earlier this week, and Pence reportedly made it clear after meeting with the coronavirus task force, which includes several top public health officials in the country, that they report to him, and that all public statements and appearances on the virus must be coordinated with his office.
Unidentified officials told the Times that Pence’s goal isn’t to control the group but to coordinate with them. According to aides, Trump wanted to place a single person in charge of the response to prevent a power struggle.
Pence has tapped Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS, to coordinate the coronavirus response with the White House.
Trump tweeted late on Thursday: “Congratulations and thank you to our great Vice President & all of the many professionals doing such a fine job at CDC & all other agencies on the Coronavirus situation. Only a very small number in U.S., & China numbers look to be going down. All countries working well together!”
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