Hours after President Donald Trump arrived for his 31st visit to Palm Beach County as president, he announced via tweets that he’s replacing his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

President Donald Trump arrived Friday evening after a day in which the coronavirus outbreak commanded national and local attention.


Air Force One landed at Palm Beach International Airport at 7:28 p.m. Traveling with the president from Atlanta were Georgia U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. The president’s motorcade immediately left for Mar-Lago, where Trump was to attend a roundtable with supporters and speak at a fundraising dinner later in the evening.


Trump wasn’t at Mar-a-Lago long before he made a major move to his administration via Twitter.


In a series of tweets, Trump announced that his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, a former congressman who served multiple roles at the White House, is leaving his job and the president is appointing Rep. Mark Meadows to fill the powerful position.


Hours before the president landed, Florida’s congressional leaders held a pair of public meetings in West Palm Beach to discuss the coronavirus threat.


The Republicans gathered first in a roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and attended by fellow U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, with county officials and health experts.


>>Trump's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is out. Mark Meadows will take on role


Rubio emphasized the need to focus on research on antiviral treatments now to lessen the risk for vulnerable people, such as the elderly, as the top coronavirus priority.


At 3 p.m., U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch, both Democrats, met with Palm Beach County health, school, business and local government representatives. Much of that discussion centered on protective equipment and clear protocols for first responders and health officials.


....I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the Administration so well. He will become the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. Thank you!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2020

The president’s early schedule Friday included signing a bill to provide $8.3 billion in emergency federal government funds to address the coronavirus spread.


The signing ceremony, though, included an awkward moment after the president was asked why he did not plan to visit the Centers for Disease Control offices in Atlanta on Friday.


Before Trump could answer, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar interjected: "He's actually sent me. I'm going to go down."


Trump then suggested otherwise: "We may go. They thought there was a problem at CDC with somebody that had the virus. It turned out negative so we're seeing if we can do it ... We're going to see if they can turn it around with Secret Service. We may be going."


In fact, the president did ultimately tour the CDC headquarters in Atlanta late Friday afternoon. He also tweeted that the administration has "total confidence" in Azar.


"It is FAKE NEWS that @HHSGov @SecAzar is "sidelined" from the great job he is doing on the CoronaVirus Task Force. He has the total confidence of the @VP and myself, and is doing a fantastic job, as the numbers would indicate!" the missive read.


It is FAKE NEWS that @HHSGov @SecAzar is "sidelined" from the great job he is doing on the CoronaVirus Task Force. He has the total confidence of the @VP and myself, and is doing a fantastic job, as the numbers would indicate!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2020


Still the back-and-forth again served as an example of the mixed, if not contradictory, messaging that has dogged the White House on the coronavirus issue for weeks.


Along the motorcade route on Southern Boulevard, protester Dave King, 67, of West Palm Beach was critical of what he said was the president’s confusing statements.


"The worst thing is coming out with all these public statements contradicting health officials," King said. "It can confuse people and cause real harm."


Barry Imhoff, 60, also of West Palm Beach, blamed the Trump administration for gutting the government’s health infrastructure.



"It's unfortunate that we were not more prepared," Imhoff said. "Trump did away with a lot of the Obama people and regulations, so our government has been gutted."


Further down Southern, the president’s supporters sharply disagreed in defending the administration.


"I think he is doing very good at handling the situation," said Pamela Williams, 71, of Royal Palm Beach. "What we need to understand is that President is not in control of what’s going on in the world. It’s almighty God. And people need to wake up and know that whatever God has ordained is going to happen, whether President Trump is there or not."


Erwin Bruner, 45, of Wellington blamed Democrats for "blocking" Trump and the media.


"I believe he did everything possible to keep Americans safe, but the Democrats keep insisting on blocking everything he does," Bruner said. "Now the Democrats are using this pandemic as a way to attack him ... The only one doing something to prevent this virus from attacking the United States was President Trump."


Before leaving Washington, the president minimized the virus’ present impact on the economy, noting that the "incredible" jobs report issued Friday showed the economy created "close to 80,000 new jobs from last report. And if you add that up it's over 350,000 jobs."


Still, stocks had another rocky day on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average had a roller coaster week. In early afternoon trading on Friday, the Dow was off more than 800 points. The index ended the day at 25,864.78, down 256.90 points.


Before traveling to Atlanta, however, Trump toured the communities in central Tennessee devastated by tornadoes early this week. Asked what message he had for the people who loved ones and homes, Trump said he wanted to offer comfort to the grieving and praised early rebuilding efforts.


"Well, I do have a message, and I have a message for the families of those that lost their lives: We love them; they’re special people," he said. "It’s an incredible place, an incredible state. Tremendous heart. Already, you see people rebuilding. I mean, it took place literally hours ago -- a couple of days -- and they’re already rebuilding. I’ve never seen -- we were flying over; you see the blue roofs going up. It’s all over the place."


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