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Top White House coronavirus task force officials to be deployed to COVID hot spots

Lawmakers weigh next coronavirus relief package
Lawmakers weigh next coronavirus relief packa... 09:35

The Trump administration is launching a campaign to send needed supplies and experts from the White House coronavirus task force to coronavirus hot spots across the country, multiple task force officials confirm to CBS News. This "Embers Strategy" will focus on reminding people to continue social distancing, wear masks and bring attention to the need for other mitigation efforts in states that have seen a recent surge in cases.

Officials including task force leader Dr. Deborah Birx, infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Surgeon General Jerome Adams will be sent to hotspots across the country. Birx visited Tennessee and Virginia earlier this week, while Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will be conducting his appearances remotely so he can continue his work in Washington, D.C. The launch of the Embers Strategy was first reported by Axios.

Several southern and western states have seen a recent surge in coronavirus cases. California and Florida — the two states with the highest number of infections in the country — set new records for single-day coronavirus fatalities on Wednesday. This grim milestone comes as the U.S. surpassed 150,000 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Although the task force has continued to meet frequently, President Trump has taken over the regular press briefings on the crisis. He has publicly clashed with Fauci, and on Tuesday, he mused aloud about why Fauci and Birx are more popular than he is.

"They're highly thought of, but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality," Mr. Trump said. The president also claimed on Tuesday that large portions of the country are "corona-free."

Fauci, Birx, and Adams will join the president at his event at the Red Cross on Thursday, multiple sources confirmed to CBS News.  

Mr. Trump has also faced criticism for continuing to encourage the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients. The president's support for the antimalarial drug contrasts with a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine last month, which found that it was not effective in preventing illness from the coronavirus.

Mr. Trump retweeted a video of medical personnel promoting the drug on Monday, although the video was removed by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for containing false information.

Weijia Jiang and Ben Tracy contributed to this report.

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