Pence absent from Covid-19 planning calls for more than a month

Source: Politico | October 29, 2020 | Adam Cancryn and Dan Goldberg

As coronavirus cases spike upwards, the vice president’s task force is less active than before.

When Vice President Mike Pence first took charge of the White House’s coronavirus task force, among his earliest moves was establishing a standing call with all 50 governors aimed at closely coordinating the nation’s pandemic fight.

Yet as the U.S. confronts its biggest Covid-19 surge to date, Pence hasn’t attended one of those meetings in over a month.

Pence – who has been touting the Trump administration’s response effort on the campaign trail for weeks – is not expected to be on the line again Friday, when the group holds its first governors call since Oct. 13, said a person with knowledge of the plan. It’s a prolonged absence that represents just the latest sign of the task force’s diminished role in the face of the worsening public health crisis it was originally created to combat.

Once a driving force behind the White House’s coronavirus messaging, the group hasn’t held a collective press briefing in months. Inside the West Wing, task force members’ growing alarm over the virus’ resurgence has gone largely ignored. And among health officials on the front lines, there is mounting consensus that the federal government has little new aid to offer – leaving states to face the pandemic’s third and potentially worst wave increasingly on their own.

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