Vice President Mike Pence was tapped to lead the government's response to coronavirus because President Donald Trump said he didn't "have anything else to do," the New York Times reported.
The Trump administration's approach to coronavirus so far has faced bipartisan criticism in Washington, and Democrats have slammed Trump's decision to put Pence in charge.
Pence continues to face criticism over a bungled response to an HIV outbreak in Indiana while he was the state's governor.
President Donald Trump told people he put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the government's response to coronavirus because he didn't "have anything else to do," the New York Times reported, per people familiar with the president's comments.
The Trump administration has faced bipartisan condemnation over its approach to the coronavirus so far, as public health experts excoriate the president for contradicting warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Amid apparent concerns over the impact panic over coronavirus will have on the stock market, the White House is attempting to tighten control over information government health officials and scientists make public, the Times reported. They're reportedly being directed to coordinate all statements and public appearances through Pence.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Pence has a spotty record when it comes to health crises, and continues to face criticism over his handling of an HIV outbreak in Indiana when he was the state's governor.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, currently the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic nomination, said Trump's plan for tackling coronavirus has been "disgusting." The Vermont senator attributed this, in part, to the president's decision to tap Pence to take the helm given the vice president's controversial approach to the HIV outbreak.
—Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 27, 2020
Alex Azar, the health and human services secretary, on Wednesday said he will continue to lead the coronavirus task force, even as Trump announced Pence would coordinate the response.
Public health experts have said such conflicting messages are spreading confusion about Americans as the CDC warns that the spread of the novel coronavirus, which originated in China, is inevitable in the US and will lead to "severe" disruptions.