In recent days, some of the most forceful calls for actions came from top former Trump officials who took to Twitter and TV to make their appeals.
“The No. 1 rule for me, if I were back in that building, would be to get people to stop looking backwards,” said Thomas Bossert, Trump’s former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, during a Monday morning appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“This is a leadership opportunity for the president to paint for the American people what it is going to look like over the next couple of weeks, months, up to a year,” he added.
Amid the economic slide, the White House will be getting a new internal leader, with Mark Meadows taking over as Trump’s chief of staff from Mick Mulvaney.
Over the weekend, Meadows participated in an administration call about the coronavirus response and spoke with individual senior staffers. He mostly listened and sought recommendations from top officials, according to two people briefed on the calls.
One senior administration aide said officials are now starting to receive good coronavirus data from South Korea and Italy, which gives them a better sense of which people are most at risk in the U.S.
Still, the coronavirus threatens to swamp the final months of Trump’s first term, as the administration deals with further outbreaks throughout the U.S., more economic uncertainty and the anxiety among Americans still unsure about the best means of prevention.
The crisis is a leadership test for Trump, a frequent underminer of the administration’s own messaging efforts and never one to grapple with health care specifics. Trump has instead focused his public remarks on insisting he deserves credit for taking early action to block people traveling to the U.S. from China — even as his administration lagged on ensuring the U.S. had enough capacity to test for the virus.