President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he had directed Vice President Mike Pence to oversee the coronavirus task force.
Trump said that Pence had great experience in health care as governor of Indiana, but he did not appoint a “coronavirus czar” as some Democrats had demanded.
“Mike will be working with the professionals and doctors and everyone else working, the team is brilliant,” Trump said. “Mike is going to be in charge and Mike will report back to me, but he has a certain talent for this.”
Pence thanked Trump for the responsibility and vowed to make sure all Americans were prepared.
“I look forward, Mr. President, to serving in this role and bringing together all the members of the corona task force that you’ve established,” Pence said.
Trump reassured Americans that his administration was prepared for the spread of the coronavirus in the United States “if” it spread further in the country.
“We are ready to adapt and we’re ready to do whatever we have to as the disease spreads, if it spreads,” Trump said.
The president said that the administration acted early to quarantine people with the disease and banned travel to the United States from foreign nationals from China or people who had recently visited China.
The president also said he was “shocked” and “amazed” when he learned from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci that the flu killed 25,000 to 69,000 people every year.
Trump said that although his administration had requested $2.5 billion from Congress to handle the disease, he was willing to accept whatever resources they decided to allocate.
“If they want to give more, we’ll do more, we’re going to spend whatever’s appropriate,” Trump said.
He also touted the “tremendous success” of containing the virus and thanked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for leading the task force.
Trump also noted that he had spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the progress fighting the virus in China.
“He’s working very hard, I have to say, he’s working very, very hard,” Trump said about Xi.
The president expressed optimism that the outbreak was already dying out.
“If you can count on the reports coming out of China, that spread has gone down quite a bit,” he said.