White House may scale back coronavirus task force meetings soon, source says

(CNN) — The White House coronavirus task force may soon begin slowly scaling back its number of meetings, a source familiar with the decision told CNN, as President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence schedule other events.

The group met only once this weekend, according to three people familiar with the schedule, after a tumultuous few days in the West Wing. The task force met Saturday but did not Sunday — a rarity since the task force has met almost every day since it was assembled.

Task force meetings usually last about 90 minutes at least as aides go over the latest data before the press briefing. But given there was no briefing this weekend, the meeting Saturday moved relatively quickly, a person who attended said.

Two officials said the White House is planning more economy-focused events in the coming days and weeks, including more roundtables with CEOs and workers meant to highlight efforts to spur an economic recovery. They hope to invite people who have been helped by stimulus funds or small business loans to showcase the steps the administration has taken to mitigate the economic fallout.

That could also include domestic travel, potentially as soon as this week, one official said, though the official cautioned that plans haven’t been finalized for the President to leave the White House after weeks spent inside the executive mansion and West Wing. Like almost all the President’s pre-outbreak official travel, he is not expected to spend the night on the road.

Aides believe Trump is better positioned to drive an economic message rather than a health one, officials said, a fact they feel was proved true after last week’s disinfectant disaster.

The President spent the weekend venting about the negative coverage he received after he suggested last week there should be studies on whether disinfectants or light could be used to fight the coronavirus inside the human body. An exasperated President lashed out at aides, the media and Democrats in what multiple sources described to CNN as one of the most frustrated moments of his presidency.

One of the things weighing heaviest on the President, people close to him say, are his sinking poll numbers. Though his restricted movement hasn’t helped. People who speak with Trump often said he’s internalizing negative coverage more than ever because he doesn’t have his usual outlets, such as golf or seeing old friends.

Meanwhile, divisions are emerging among the staff in the West Wing. The new West Wing communications team has decided to retake control of the coronavirus messaging that Pence’s staff had been handling since he was tapped to lead the task force in late February.

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