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Trump says Fauci, Birx will still be involved in COVID-19 efforts

Trump says Fauci, Birx will still be involved in COVID-19 efforts
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE confirmed that Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge US COVID-19 cases reach past 13 million Fauci: Pandemic likely won't improve by Christmas, New Year's MORE and Deborah Birx will still be involved in the administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus as the White House winds down its task force to fight the disease.

“They will be, and so will other doctors, and so will other experts in the field,” the president said Tuesday when asked if Fauci and Birx, who both serve on the task force, would continue advising the White House on its COVID-19 efforts. “We are bringing our country back.”

Fauci is the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, while Birx is the head of the White House coronavirus task force. Fauci in particular has garnered heavy praise in the media for his work throughout the crisis.

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Vice President Pence, who oversees the task force, confirmed Tuesday that the White House is exploring winding the panel down. The move comes as most states are preparing to loosen restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus even as several areas still face rising COVID-19 cases and deaths. 

"I think we're having conversations about that and about what the proper time is for the task force to complete its work and for the ongoing efforts to take place on an agency-by-agency level," Pence said at a briefing. "And we've already begun to talk about a transition plan with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency]."

"It really is all a reflection of the tremendous progress we've made as a country," he added. 

Pence’s office confirmed that Birx, who was brought in from the State Department, will "continue to review and analyze data and work with the departments in agencies to help that data inform their decision making processes." 

Members of the task force are expected to return to their respective departments and work on the government’s coronavirus response from there once they disband.

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COVID-19 has infected more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. and killed more than 70,000. Cases have continued to rise across the country, though numbers of cases and deaths have fallen in New York, which has been the epicenter of the U.S. crisis. 

States have begun to reopen their economies, leading to worries about an increase in cases. 

The White House has shifted its focus to the economy, which has been devastated by the lockdowns used to control the spread of the disease. Trump on Tuesday emphasized the importance of reopening the country even as he said it could lead to new cases.