FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar listens at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration is considering replacing its secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, because of early missteps in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the Wall Street Journal and Politico reported on Saturday.
The Journal, which cited six people familiar with the discussions, said frustration with Azar was growing but the administration was reluctant to make big changes while the country was seeking to stop the virus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19 and has killed more than 53,000 people in the United States.
A White House spokesman told the newspaper that there was no plan to replace Azar and called talk of replacing him “speculation and a distraction.”
Politico said the short list of names to replace Azar included Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Seema Verma and deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis