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Trump administration moves ahead with plan to open new pandemic office as coronavirus crisis intensifies

July 2, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak to the press in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 2, 2020. - Trump on Thursday hailed the "spectacular" US jobs report for June, saying the return to work of 4.8 million Americans marks a huge comeback for an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Trump administration disbanded the National Security Council's pandemic response office in 2018 -- and now, on the defensive after a failed response to the coronavirus pandemic, they are planning to launch a similar office at the State Department.

Washington (CNN)The Trump administration disbanded the National Security Council's pandemic response office in 2018 -- and now, on the defensive after a failed response to the coronavirus pandemic, they are planning to launch a similar office at the State Department.

The National Security Council hosted an interagency meeting Thursday to discuss the plans for the office, which will fall under the leadership of a new position: coordinator for pandemics, a senior administration official said.

The goal of Thursday's meeting was to flush out the details and establish a proposal for President Donald Trump to approve -- but the push to start a new office has drawn criticism from health experts and former officials, some of whom question whether this new unit is being located at the State Department, and not the NSC, simply to differentiate from the Obama administration effort.

Officials who had worked on that pandemic response team -- the directorate for global health and security and bio-defense -- lamented the Trump administration's move to gut the office, a stance the White House contests, arguing it reassigned staff and streamlined bureaucracy.

Lisa Monaco, who served as President Barack Obama's homeland security adviser and oversaw the creation of the NSC's global health directorate, told CNN's New Day on Thursday that the Trump administration's office "is deja vu all over again. "

Monaco pointed out that the Obama administration had deliberately placed the directorate within the National Security Council, which takes policy recommendations from agencies across the government and uses them to advise the President, "because in an epidemic like Ebola, in a pandemic like Covid-19, what you need is a whole of government response and you need swift action.

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