WASHINGTON, DC -- President Trump has directed a halt to payments to World Health Organization while the U.S. reviews coronavirus warnings regarding China.
Trump said Tuesday that the outbreak could have been contained at its source and spared lives had the United Nations health agency done a better job investigating reports coming out of China.
The president said the world depends on the WHO to work with countries to make sure accurate information about health threats are shared in a timely manner.
Trump claims the organization failed to carry out its “basic duty” and must be held accountable.
But Trump says the U.S. will continue to engage with the organization in pursuit of what he calls meaningful reforms.
The president also announced Tuesday that his administration has reached a deal with major U.S. airlines over a $25 billion bailout to prop up the struggling industry, allowing them to pay workers and keep them employed through September.
The assistance will include a mix of cash and loans, with the government getting warrants that can be converted into small ownership stakes in the leading airlines.
The full terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines are among those who have accepted the offer.
Meantime, Dr. Anthony Fauci is again publicly cautioning against Trump’s aggressive calls to reopen the U.S., telling The Associated Press the country is not yet ready to ease up on restrictions aiming to slow the spread of coronavirus because it doesn’t have the capacity to test and trace new cases.
“We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview that was published Tuesday.
Fauci said opening the country on May 1 — after federal social distancing guidelines are set to expire — is “a bit overly optimistic” for many places in the US. This process, he said, would likely have to occur on a “rolling” basis and not simultaneously across the country. A key worry, he said, was that the U.S. would see new outbreaks in places where officials may not be able to swiftly test and trace contacts of those who are infected.
Public health experts widely agree that to control the epidemic in the absence of strict social distancing measures, states and localities will need to build the capacity for contact tracing. That’s a process of identifying new cases of Covid-19 and then tracking down and quarantining anyone who could have been infected by those newly identified cases.