- President Donald Trump has not attended a meeting of the coronavirus task force for 5 months, reported The Washington Post Sunday.
- With Trump taking no active role in attempting to slow the disease, the number of new cases hit a daily record of 184,000 on Friday.
- President-elect Biden has demanded that Trump take action to slow the surge in new cases before leaving office in January.
President Donald Trump hasn’t attended a meeting of the White House’s coronavirus task force in five months, and has taken no steps to slow a surge in the disease since losing his reelection bid, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
The president has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in “at least five months,” a senior official with knowledge of the meetings told the publication. According to the report, Trump is no longer taking an active role in managing the crisis’s response.
The report comes with coronavirus cases again surging again in the US, with the number of new cases hitting a record daily high of 184,521 on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Deaths are also continuing to increase, with 1,431 new deaths recorded on Friday.
Trump was once a mainstay at the coronavirus task force’s daily briefing, but the daily appearances were abruptly halted after the president suggested injecting disinfectant to ward off the virus in bizarre off the cuff remarks in April.
In recent months the president pledged that no widespread restrictions would be introduced by his administration and has taken an increasingly less active role in federal government measures to fight the crisis.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert on the White House coronavirus task force, in comments at a Chatham House event Friday, warned of a “challenging and ominous” situation with winter approaching and the disease continues to spread as people are “congregating indoors.”
In veiled criticism of Trump, Fauci said that the US had reopened too early after an initial peak of the disease in spring, adding “when we tried to open the economy and open the country again we did it in a disparate way. We didn’t have uniform adherence to the guidelines.”
Throughout the pandemic, Trump has spread false claims and disinformation as he sought to downplay the impact of the disease and ignored or dismissed measures advocated by public health officials, such as wearing masks, to halt the spread of the disease. The disease has surged through the White House, with the president himself hospitalized for three days with the illness in September.
At a press briefing at the White House Rose Garden Friday, Trump hailed the development of a coronavirus vaccine by pharmaceuticals firm Pfizer which is expected to widely available early next year.
Trump has raged about the news of the vaccine being announced days after his defeat to Biden in the presidential election. On Twitter, Trump groundlessly claimed “the Democrats” and officials inside his administration had suppressed the vaccine to ensure his defeat.
The president’s botched response to the crisis is seen as one of the key reasons behind his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden in November’s presidential election.
Biden has pledged to renew the federal government’s fight against the disease when he takes office on January 20. In comments on Friday, he demanded Trump do more to combat the crisis.
“The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration — starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is,” said Biden.