Administration officials held a briefing at the White House featuring Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, along with Russell T. Vought, the budget director, and Eric Ueland, the White House legislative director. After each official read off a series of prepared talking points, they took only a handful of questions from journalists.
Of the three officials, Mr. Azar went the furthest in suggesting that the United States might face a difficult next phase of the coronavirus, if it spreads. Mr. Trump has repeatedly told advisers he is concerned that Mr. Azar and others in the administration are presenting an “alarmist” view.
“The administration has ignored or sidelined expert staff at agencies like the C.D.C. and the N.I.H., offered the public inconsistent and confusing information, and failed to provide clear leadership,” said Dr. Kathleen Rest, the executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and a health policy expert, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
Mr. Pence went to Florida on Friday for a previously scheduled fund-raiser for the state’s Republican delegation, although he planned to give a briefing to Gov. Ron DeSantis while there. He also stopped by the radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh’s studio to insist that the administration was not focused on politics.
“Washington is always going to have a political reflexive response to things,” Mr. Pence said. “But we’re going to tune that out.”
Mr. Limbaugh has been among the conservative commentators who have blamed the news media and political opponents for overemphasizing the coronavirus, which he compared to the common cold. “It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump,” Mr. Limbaugh, who was recently given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Mr. Trump, said on his show on Monday.
That theme has been amplified by some of the president’s favorite Fox News hosts, like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, in recent days and animated Mr. Mulvaney’s appearance on Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md.