Vice President Pence told reporters today that the coronavirus task force created to manage the federal government’s response to the pandemic could be disbanded within a month because “of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.”

The number of people who have died in the U.S. from covid-19 passed 70,000 on Tuesday, with nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases, according to state health departments and tracking by The Washington Post.

Here are some significant developments:

  • President Trump’s latest red line for the next phase of coronavirus legislation — a payroll tax cut for workers — has few fans in Congress, further complicating the path toward a new rescue package.
  • A complaint filed to the House suggests the coronavirus response being spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been hampered because it relies on volunteers that are under-qualified and ill-suited for the job.
  • A research paper, not yet peer-reviewed, reports that one strain of the virus has emerged in Europe and become dominant around the planet, leading the researchers to believe it has mutated to become more contagious. The bold hypothesis, however, was immediately met with skepticism by many infectious-disease experts.
  • Some public companies are declining to return the money given to them under the small-business Paycheck Protection Program, saying the initial rules never barred them from applying.
  • Rand Paul, who was the first senator to test positive, attended Tuesday’s Senate session without a face mask, declaring that he has immunity — even though experts remain uncertain whether recovered covid-19 patients are actually immune.
  • French doctors found a patient had covid-19 in December, signaling the disease may have reached Europe far earlier than previously thought.