WASHINGTON – The White House on Monday suspended daily coronavirus task forces briefings but said they would resume later in the week as the focus shifts to the economic reopening phase in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The pause in the briefings follows a tumultuous few days after the Republican president’s musings on Thursday on whether injecting disinfectants might be a treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
An international chorus of doctors, health experts and manufacturers of the products urged people not to drink or inject disinfectant after President Donald Trump made the comments.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters the briefings might have a new look and a new focus.
‘But I would not read into that anything that said we see them as negative because in fact we think that they have been a very positive, helpful opportunity for the president to speak to the American people’, she said outside the White House.
The briefings, which can often stretch to two hours, have featured U.S. health experts who give updates on the federal government’s efforts to fight the virus outbreak that has killed more than 54,000 Americans.
In more recent weeks they have also become a platform for Trump, who is seeking re-election in November, to put forth his own theories on the coronavirus and potential cures, or to attack his political enemies.
Monday’s briefing, listed on the president’s official schedule at 5 p.m., will not be held, McEnany said. Instead, Trump will hold a press availability as the meets with chief executives and industry leaders at the White House.
The task force will resume briefings later in the week, she said.