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Carson, FDA commissioner added to coronavirus task force

Carson, FDA commissioner added to coronavirus task force
© Greg Nash

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBen CarsonBen Carson launches conservative think tank Trump's '1776 Report' released on MLK Day receives heavy backlash Biden has an opportunity to win over conservative Christians MORE and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Sunday were officially added to the White House coronavirus task force.

Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Supreme Court's blow to Trump MORE's office also announced that Kelvin Droegmeier, who heads the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, will work with the task force.

Both Carson and Hahn worked in the medical field prior to joining the federal government. Carson worked as a brain surgeon, while Hahn's background is in oncology. Droegmeier's expertise is in meteorology.

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The announcement of additional members of the White House task force comes as the administration seeks to reassure the American public of its preparedness, even as new coronavirus cases are being reported across the country.

President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE last week tasked Pence with leading the government response to coronavirus, a move that drew Democratic criticism due to the vice president's lack of medical expertise.

Pence has since named Deborah Birx, a career health official and State Department appointee focused on HIV/AIDS, to coordinate the White House response. He has also added six new members to the task force, including the three announced Sunday.

The task force met on Saturday, and Carson could be seen in a photo of the gathering.

Officials on Saturday confirmed the first death in the U.S. as a result of the coronavirus, a man in Washington state. There are more than 70 cases of the virus in the U.S. Four of those are cases of community transmission, meaning the individuals did not recently travel to infected areas or come into contact with those who did.

Trump has further restricted travel from Iran and advised U.S. citizens not to travel to specific regions in Italy and South Korea due to concerns about the virus.