White House Announces Task Force To Monitor Coronavirus; Media Outlets Report On Trump’s Approach To Outbreak

AP: Wary of irking China, Trump offers rosy take on virus threat
“…Aides and confidants say Trump’s careful approach is part of a political strategy crafted to avoid upsetting the stock market or angering China by calling too much attention to the virus or blaming Beijing for not managing the situation better, according to a White House official and a Republican close to the White House. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations. Later Wednesday, Trump tweeted out photos from a briefing on the virus he attended with administration officials in the Situation Room, writing that ‘we have the best experts anywhere in the world and they are on top of it 24/7!’…” (Superville et al., 1/30).

The Hill: White House announces task force to monitor coronavirus
“The White House on Wednesday announced the formation of a task force to monitor the coronavirus as global health officials seek to combat the outbreak of the disease in China. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that the task force has met daily since Monday and will lead the government response to monitor and contain the disease. President Trump chaired a meeting on the matter at the White House earlier Wednesday. … Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is leading the task force, the White House said. Other members include national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, top National Institutes of Health official Anthony Fauci, and several other administration officials…” (Samuels, 1/29).

Homeland Preparedness News: Sen. Markey urges Trump to reestablish global health “czar” position following coronavirus outbreak
“U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is urging the Trump administration to reestablish the White House global health security and biothreats directorate within the National Security Council. In 2016, after the Ebola virus emerged, the Obama administration created the global health and biothreats ‘czar’ position. It was designed to establish a policymaking apparatus to tackle global pandemics. However, the position was eliminated in 2018 by the Trump administration, and resources for global health preparedness were drastically cut…” (Kovaleski, 1/29).

POLITICO: Trump has so far dodged becoming face of coronavirus crisis
“…So far, Trump’s moves are as a marked difference from the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, when he blasted former President Barack Obama for not imposing strict travel restrictions. The lower-profile approach he’s shown to date could keep paying dividends if confirmed cases continue to climb, as authorities expect. The outbreak already is providing an early test of a plan Trump unveiled in 2018 to respond to man-made and naturally occurring biological threats that designated HHS the lead federal department on viral pandemics, effectively wrangling up to a dozen agencies’ response…” (Owermohle et al., 1/29).

Additional coverage of the U.S. government response to the coronavirus outbreak domestically and abroad is available from Government Executive, The Hill, KHN, Mother Jones, NPR, POLITICO, Reuters, and USA TODAY.