HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that in the meantime, the president had ordered him to visit the CDC instead.
Earlier, a White House official confirmed the president’s visit had been scrapped but for a different reason. “The CDC has been proactive and prepared since the very beginning and the president does not want to interfere with the CDC’s mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency,” the official said.
Late Thursday, on a trip to Washington state, where coronavirus deaths reached double digits this week, Vice President Mike Pence announced that Trump would sign an $8 billion coronavirus funding bill during his CDC trip.
“We are making progress,” Pence said at a news conference in Tacoma, Washington. “As I mentioned, federal assistance was approved by the United States Senate. President Trump is expected to sign the legislation tomorrow as he visits the CDC in Atlanta.”
Instead, Trump signed the bill at the White House just before 9 a.m. Friday. “We’ve signed the 8.3 billion,” he said. “I asked for two and a half and I got 8.3 and I’ll take it.”
Trump, who put Pence in charge of the administration’s response to the outbreak, has made a point to talk about coronavirus regularly but he has largely continued with his normal schedule. He spoke at a campaign rally Monday in Charlotte and a Fox New town hall in Scranton, Pa. on Thursday and will headline a series of fundraisers in Florida this weekend.
In his public remarks, Trump has dispensed questionable theories about the virus and contradicted some of the information coming from medical professionals, including the 3.4 percent death rate projection by the World Health Organization.