1. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Pence, U.S. Vice President:
"In the days ahead, we're going to make sure that the full resources of the federal government continue to be brought to bear in confronting the coronavirus here at home. And I look forward to your recommendations and to your counsel and to be to carry those recommendations to the president as we continue to deal with this issue. The president has no higher priority than the health and safety of the American people. The work we're doing here today represents the most important work being done in this government today. Apart from our national defense, you are the first line of defense for the health of the American people. The agencies represented here do extraordinary work every day."
2. Pan meeting
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:
"So we're dealing with now something that's unique and troublesome, as we've seen the havoc that has been wrenched in the air in China with the number of cases they've had is that this virus has adapted itself extremely well - the transmissibility in humans. Some viruses, when they jump species can be deadly, but they're very poorly adapted to humans. This one has the capability of spreading readily from human to human. It results in a pulmonary disease in those who have serious disease. The death rate, or what we call the case fatality rate, is about 2%, 2.5%."
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4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:
"What we need to do now, obviously, is the containment as well as, if it comes to that, the mitigation of the effect of this. So we're dealing with a serious virus that we're taking very seriously because of its potential."
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5. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Pence, U.S. Vice President:
"The president has asked me to lead our administration's effort in response to the coronavirus.
(Reporter: Are you leading the task force?)
I'm leading the task force. We'll continue to rely on the secretary's role as chairman of the task force and the leader of Health and Human Services. But we've known each other for many years and worked together very closely over the years. And the president has every confidence in the secretary, as I do. But the president wanted to make it clear to the American people that we're going to bring the whole of government approach to this. President wanted to make it clear that what a priority this is for him and for our administration."
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence convened his first meeting of the coronavirus Task Force on Thursday, one day after President Donald Trump made him the government's point-person for the epidemic.
Pence is moving to project calm in his role of chief coordinator of the government's response to the new coronavirus, as the Trump administration tries to contain mounting public concerns and steep stock market declines.
He named a seasoned medical professional as his chief adviser on the response and said Trump had "tasked us to take every step necessary to protect the health of the American people."
Pence on Thursday brought in Debbie Birx, the administration's global AIDS coordinator and a medical doctor, to serve as his chief adviser for responding to the virus outbreak.
He also added Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, to the task force, a recognition that the virus was quickly becoming an economic, not just a public health, threat.
Thursday's meeting came amid confusion over who was leading the inter-agency coordinating process to confront the virus.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stood side-by-side with Trump on Wednesday when the president announced that he was putting Pence "in charge" of the government's response to the virus. At the end of the briefing, Azar said he was "delighted" to have the vice president's help, but also said he wanted to "clarify" that "I'm still chairman of the task force." amid confusion over who was leading the inter-agency coordinating process to confront the virus.
Reporters during the photo-opportunity asked for clarification about the taskforce's leadership.
"I'm leading the task force," Pence replied, adding "we'll continue to rely on the secretary's role as chairman of the task force and the leader of Health and Human Services. "