Jared Kushner Is Running A 'Shadow' Coronavirus Task Force Setting Up Testing Drive-Thrus: Report

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is running a "shadow" coronavirus task force that has caused confusion among some administration officials, it has been reported.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday night that Kushner's team was focused on setting up coronavirus testing drive-thrus in select cities by Friday, according to officials who spoke to the newspaper.

It also reported that the team of health-care delivery experts, administration officials, and tech and retail industry leaders was viewed as a source of confusion by officials dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

One administration official told the Post that they didn't know who some people on the Kushner team were, adding: "Who is this? We're all getting these emails."

Jared Kushner at White House panel discussion
Jared Kushner listens during a panel discussion on May 18, 2018 at the White House in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

But in an interview with the newspaper, Kushner said his team, reportedly dubbed a "shadow task force" by some, was getting work done at "record speeds" while "doing everything possible to avoid damage."

"In America, some of our best resources are in our private sector," he said. "The federal government is not designed to solve all our problems; a lot of the muscle is in the private sector and there's also a lot of smart people."

He later added that he was working "closely" with Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the public coronavirus task force and regularly appears at briefings on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment and will update this article with any response.

Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller told the Post that "those who are involved in the effort" weren't confused by Kushner's team.

"For those who deal with this day-to-day, the structure is quite clear," she added.

On top of preparing novel coronavirus testing areas in cities with large numbers of confirmed cases of the disease—including New York and Seattle—Kushner's team is also reportedly handling issues with procuring nose swabs for the tests.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly stressed the importance of carrying out tests for COVID-19 amid the pandemic, with Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calling on countries to "test, test, test" earlier this week.

Vice President Pence promised this week that 2,000 labs would soon be offering high-speed testing, and the Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday that it would be loosening restrictions on testing.

Although there is not yet an official countrywide figure for the number of COVID-19 tests carried out in the U.S. thus far, the community-run Covid Tracking Project collecting data from state authorities puts the total number of tests conducted at 79,766.

According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, more than 9,400 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States so far, with a little more than 3,000 of those recorded in New York and more than 1,100 confirmed in Seattle. At the time of writing, 150 deaths related to the new coronavirus have been recorded across the country, along with 106 total recoveries.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts