US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar(R) speaks as US President Donald Trump listens during a coronavirus task force press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 30, 2020. (Photo by AFP)
The administration of US President Donald Trump is reportedly considering replacing Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar for his early missteps in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sources familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday that frustration with Azar was growing but the White House was reluctant toshake up top HHS personnel as the country was scrambling to rein in the deadly contagion.
It remained unclear whether Azar would be ousted and in what timeline that might take place.
White House spokesman Judd Deere, however, denied that any kind of firing was forthcoming and said the HHS under Azarwill continue to perform its duties.
"The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the Presidentís priorities," Deere told the Journal. "Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to COVID-19."
An HHS spokeswoman also told the publication on Saturday that, "Secretary Azar is busy responding to a global, public health crisis and doesnít have time for palace intrigue."
Azarhas barely appeared at the daily press briefings on the coronavirus response since he was appointed as head of the body on February 26.
While coronavirus was raging in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province late last year, Azar assured Americans that it "was one for which we have a playbook."
Azarís initial comments misfired after he underestimated the pandemicís severity and overestimated his agencyís preparedness.
The Trump administration hasbeen blasted for Americaís halting response to the pandemic. Critics inside and outside the administration maintain that a meaningful share of the responsibility lies with HHS and Trump appointee, Azar.
As of Sunday, at least 962,478 people across the US have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 54,325 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Globally, nearly three million people have now been confirmed with the virus, while more than 200 thousand have died.
SOURCE: PRESS TV