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​WHITE HOUSE ADDS NEW MEMBERS TO CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE BY

Five new members have been added to the coronavirus Task Force by the White House on Friday, signaling a new focus on reopening the economy and developing vaccines.

The additions, announced by Vice President Pence, include Labor Secretary Gene Scalia, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. They also added Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologic Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration, and Thomas Engels, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Pence said in a statement that the new members would add expertise in vaccines, therapeutics and workers’ safety as the task force “renews its focus on getting Americans back to work.”

 initially, the White House had planned to scale back the task force in June, but Trump backed off those plans last week after public outcry.  Trump signaled that the task force would shift its focus to reopening the economy as well as the development of vaccine and therapeutics.

“At a certain point, we won’t need a task force, but we’re going to add a couple of people to it and that will again be for the opening of our country.”

Trump has been eager to reopen the country in order to address the lagging economy, which has been devastated by business closures caused by the coronavirus. A number of states have started loosening coronavirus restrictions, many of them doing so without meeting criteria for reopening recommended by the White House.

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