Republican From Virus Hotspot Says Trump Should Disband Task Force

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An influential House Republican from a state enduring one of the worst Covid-19 spikes in the country is urging President Donald Trump to disband the White House coronavirus task force because, he argues, it’s hindering the U.S. economic recovery.

Arizona Representative Andy Biggs said that the scientists on the task force, which is led by Vice President Mike Pence, are causing an unnecessary “panic.”

“As our economy is restored, it is imperative that President Trump is not undermined in his mission to return our economy to greatness,” Biggs said in a statement. “Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx continue to contradict many of President Trump’s stated goals and actions for returning to normalcy as we know more about the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Biggs is chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, conservative Republicans whom Trump often consults. He wrote an opinion article for a conservative website criticizing Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, also a Republican, for his decision on Monday to close bars, water parks, movie theaters and other public facilities as virus cases rose.

Arizona is in the middle of one of the worst Covid case spikes in America, with the percentage of people testing positive soaring above 20% and the number of hospitalized patients suspected to have Covid more than tripling since Memorial Day, less than six weeks ago.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 4,878 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, a record for the state. The state reported 88 new deaths, another one-day record that put the total at 1,720.

“We can protect our most vulnerable from the Covid-19 outbreak while still protecting lives and livelihoods of the rest of the population. It’s time for the Covid-19 task force to be disbanded so that President Trump’s message is not mitigated or distorted,” Biggs, who represents the eastern suburbs of Phoenix, said in his statement.

Biggs said that Thursday’s jobs report, which showed a bigger than expected increase of 4.8 million jobs in June, validates Trump’s push to reopen the economy. The congressman has been arguing for months that the lockdowns of healthy individuals doesn’t make sense.

“After two months of economic nightmares due to Covid-19 and our states’ reactions to the outbreak, the American economy is roaring back as we predicted,” Biggs said.

Members of the Freedom Caucus are urging Congress to resist further stimulus spending, even as talks about further virus relief are heating up. Some are also continuing to avoid wearing masks while working in the U.S. Capitol.

“We can tweak some of what we already passed but I don’t think we should spend any more money,” Florida Republican Ted Yoho said on Wednesday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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