The Trump administration, eager to claim victory over coronavirus, has been considering scaling back the national emergency declared earlier this year to control the pandemic, according to healthcare industry officials who have spoken with the administration.
The prospect has stoked alarm among public health leaders, physicians, hospital officials and others who are trying to control the outbreak and fear that such a move would make it more difficult for state and local governments and health systems to keep the coronavirus in check.
Pressed on the issue Tuesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told the Los Angeles Times that no such move was imminent.
“I just spoke with the president,” she said, “and he said we are not looking at lifting the national emergency declarations.”
But White House officials have a history of contradicting themselves, most recently on Monday when McEnany claimed President Trump was joking over the weekend when he said he’d directed aides to slow coronavirus testing. Trump said Tuesday it wasn’t a joke.
Several industry officials interviewed by The Times said they’d received indications over the last week from the Trump administration that lifting emergency declarations was being considered.
“It was very much under discussion,” said one industry official, who asked not to be identified to avoid jeopardizing relationships with the administration.
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The discussions have taken place as hospitalizations and caseloads have begun to climb rapidly in several large states that moved early to lift restrictions on businesses, an increase that could make it more difficult for the administration to end the emergency declarations.