What Does the Coronavirus Task Force Do?

Explore the coronavirus task force and the members who are leading the country’s pandemic response.
Vice President Mike Pence meets the White House Coronavirus Task Force Principals Monday, March 2, 2020, in the White House Situation Room. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)xa

Vice President Mike Pence meets the White House Coronavirus Task Force Principals Monday, March 2, 2020, in the White House Situation Room. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)xa

What is the role of the coronavirus task force?

The coronavirus task force was formed at the end of January 2020. When President Trump announced the formation, he declared they would be in charge of leading the Federal response to the novel 2019 coronavirus, and would keep him apprised of developments. While the task force was originally led by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, a month after announcing the task force creation, Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence as chair of the task force reducing Azar’s role. Other members have been added since the task force’s inception, as well.

Composed of subject matter experts from the White House and governmental agencies, the task force meets daily to lead the effort to “monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus,” according to the January statement issued by the White House upon the formation of the task force. In an effort to keep the American public informed about the coronavirus, the task force has been holding daily press briefings.

These daily briefings have been criticized as being light on information while the President is speaking, seeming more like a campaign rally at times than a briefing on a deadly global pandemic. At one briefing, the White House aired a video that was referred to as “propaganda” by at least one major media news outlet. During the briefings, the medical and infectious disease experts appear to be trying to provide accurate and honest information, though even Dr. Fauci admits the briefings go on far too long, calling them “draining”. Outside of the daily briefings, neither the workings of the task force nor the responsibilities of the individual members are immediately transparent.

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Who are the members of the coronavirus task force?

  • Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States. Pence is the Chair of the task force, keeping Trump informed and giving direction to task force members.
  • Deborah Birx, M.D., United States Global AIDS coordinator. Dr. Birx is the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and regularly answers medical questions at daily press briefings and has heavily advised the US response to COVID-19.
  • Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has been responsible for answering medical questions at briefings and has heavily advised the US response to COVID-19.
  • Jerome Adams, M.D., United States Surgeon General. Dr. Adams brings a medical background to the coronavirus task force.
  • Alex Azar, United States Health and Human Services Director. Azar can coordinate a response between multiple agencies, with tremendous power.
  • Robert R. Redfield, M.D., Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Steven Mnuchin, United States Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Stephen Biegen, United States Deputy Secretary of State.
  • Robert Blair, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff.
  • Ben Carson, M.D., United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Ken Cuccinelli, Acting United States Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy.
  • Joe Grogan, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
  • Stephen Hahn, United States Commissioner of Food and Drug.
  • Derek Kan, Executive Associate Director, Office of Management and Budget.
  • Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council.
  • Chris Liddell, Assistant to the President and White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination.
  • Robert O’Brien, National Security Advisor.
  • Matthew Pottinger, Deputy National Security Advisor.
  • Joel Szabat, Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy in the United States Department of Transportation.
  • Robert Wilkie, United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

When was the coronavirus task force established?

The coronavirus task force was established in January, and announced by Trump on January 29, 2020. Additional members were added to the task force on February 26, 2020. In addition, Mike Pence was put in charge of the task force at that time, diminishing HHS Director Alex Azar’s role. Yet more members were added to the task force at the beginning of March. The task force was introduced to combat the spread of the novel 2019 coronavirus, COVID-19, and the task force has expanded as the virus spread and grew, requiring more Federal resources to deal with the global pandemic.

The Rantt Rundown

The coronavirus task force is a large group of White House and governmental subject matter experts charged with leading the country’s response to the global coronavirus pandemic. The task force meets daily to assess the situation, and provides daily briefings to the public, some of which have been criticized for resembling a Trump rally more than a press briefing about a serious medical pandemic affecting millions of Americans. The task force has grown as more areas of government need to be involved as the virus infects more of the populace.

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Rantt 101 // Coronavirus / Government / Health / Science