US President Donald Trump has confirmed the White House coronavirus task force will be winding down, with Vice-President Mike Pence suggesting it could be disbanded within weeks.
During a visit to the plant in Phoenix after weeks holed up at the White House, Mr Trump told journalists: “Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we’re now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we’ll have a different group probably set up for that.”
The president – who wore safety goggles but no face mask during his tour of the facility – was asked if it was “mission accomplished”, and he said: “No, not at all. The mission accomplished is when it’s over.”
Critics have accused the president of sacrificing Americans’ public health in his eagerness to reopen the US economy ahead of his re-election battle in November.
In Arizona on Tuesday, Mr Trump said that Democrats were hoping his coronavirus policy would fail “so they can win the election”.
Acknowledging a human cost to the plans, Mr Trump told reporters: “I’m not saying anything is perfect, and yes, will some people be affected? Yes.
“Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”