In Early Days, WHO Treated Contagion Like Threat It Would Become Even Though Trump Claims Otherwise
Although the World Health Organization faces criticism for how long it took to declare the outbreak a pandemic, the international organization took early and forceful action to try to mitigate the spread of the virus. President Donald Trump still wants to cut off funding, though -- a decision that drew swift push back. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of unity in the face of the crisis on news of Trump's intentions. Meanwhile, a State Department memo advised Trump against cutting funds, saying the move would cede ground to China.
The New York Times:
W.H.O., Now Trump’s Scapegoat, Warned About Coronavirus Early And Often
On Jan. 22, two days after Chinese officials first acknowledged the serious threat posed by the new virus ravaging the city of Wuhan, the chief of the World Health Organization held the first of what would be months of almost daily media briefings, sounding the alarm, telling the world to take the outbreak seriously. But with its officials divided, the W.H.O., still seeing no evidence of sustained spread of the virus outside of China, declined the next day to declare a global public health emergency. A week later, the organization reversed course and made the declaration. (Perez-Pena and McNeil, 4/16)
The Washington Post:
Trump’s Move Against The World Health Organization Is Latest Twist In A Shifting Policy On China
Having already heaped blame on China for its role in the covid-19 outbreak, President Trump and his allies opened a new front in the campaign this week by targeting the World Health Organization, calling the institution complicit in Beijing’s coverup of the breadth and severity of the pandemic. Critics contend that the White House is employing a cynical strategy, in the middle of a global health and economic crisis, to deflect culpability over Trump’s own mishandling of the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus and create another foil to rally his conservative base ahead of the 2020 presidential election. (Nakamura, Gearan and Dawsey, 4/15)
The New York Times:
Urged On By Conservatives And His Own Advisers, Trump Targeted The W.H.O.
Fox News pundits and Republican lawmakers have raged for weeks at the World Health Organization for praising China’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. On his podcast, President Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, urged his former boss to stop funding the W.H.O., citing its ties to the “Chinese Communist Party.” And inside the West Wing, the president found little resistance among the China skeptics in his administration for lashing out at the W.H.O. and essentially trying to shift the blame for his own failure to aggressively confront the spread of the virus by accusing the world’s premier global health group of covering up for the country where it started. (Shear, 4/15)
Trump Administration Officials Warned Against Halting Funding To WHO, Leaked Memo Shows
An internal memorandum written by U.S. officials and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns that cutting funding to the World Health Organization, as President Donald Trump said he would do Tuesday, would erode America’s global standing, threaten U.S. lives and hobble global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The memo, which was prepared before Trump’s Rose Garden announcement, was written by officials within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and includes a detailed list of how U.S. funding to the WHO helps countries in the Middle East control the pandemic. (Torbati, 4/15)
Birx, Like Trump, Suggests China Or WHO Warned Late About Human-To-Human Transmission, Says Actions Need To Be Examined 'Once This Is Over'
A day after President Donald Trump said he was putting a hold on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization amid the ongoing pandemic, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx echoed the president, saying that "someone had to have known" that human transmission was happening, whether China or the WHO, and signaled many lives could have been saved it been known earlier. "I think once this is over, we'll be able to look back and see, 'did China and the WHO say and do everything to alert the rest of the world to the nuances of this virus' -- because when it first explodes someone had to have known that there was human to human transmission," Birx told co-hosts of ABC's "The View" Wednesday. (Cathey, 4/15)
The New York Times:
What Does The World Health Organization Do?
President Trump’s decision to halt funding for the World Health Organization, depriving it of its biggest funding source, could have far-reaching effects in efforts to fight diseases and make health care more widely available across the globe. Mr. Trump’s order centered on the organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and he is far from alone in criticizing its actions and statements. Some countries have disregarded the W.H.O.’s efforts as the epidemic has spread, failing to report outbreaks or flouting international regulations. (Victor and Hauser, 4/15)
Tedros Says WHO Regrets U.S. Funding Cut But Is Focused On 'Saving Lives'
The head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday expressed “regret” that President Trump intends to cut off U.S. funding to the agency over its handling of the coronavirus, but pointedly avoided criticizing the U.S. move. Instead, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of global unity in the face of the pandemic. (Branswell, 4/15)
Pelosi Says Trump Decision On WHO Will Be 'Swiftly Challenged'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is vowing to challenge President Trump's decision to halt U.S. funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), a controversial move that comes as the coronavirus outbreak continues to ravage the globe. Pelosi did not provide details Wednesday of how she will respond, but she did make it clear she vehemently disagrees with the president's decision. “This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged," Pelosi said in a statement. (Beavers, 4/15)
Widespread Condemnation Of Trump’s Halt For WHO Funding
President Donald Trump announced he is halting funding to the World Health Organization on Tuesday, accusing the United Nations agency of "severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the novel coronavirus" by "parrot(ing)" Chinese government data and not "call(ing) out China's lack of transparency. "His decision has been roundly criticized by lawmakers who challenge its legality, public health experts who say it undermines the global fight against COVID-19, critics who argue Trump is searching for a scapegoat after he was slow to act and similarly praised China's initial response and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a conservative business lobby, which said the timing is wrong. (Finnegan, 4/15)
15 Times Trump Praised China As Coronavirus Was Spreading Across The Globe
Trump, however, echoed many of those same assurances regarding China and its response to the virus throughout January and February, as the unique coronavirus began to infiltrate countries around the world. Just days before the U.S. recorded its first death from Covid-19, Trump touted China’s government for its transparency and hard work to defeat the coronavirus that causes the illness. (Ward, 4/15)
Timeline: How Trump And WHO Reacted At Key Moments During The Coronavirus Crisis
We looked at the public record to see what Trump and the WHO had to say over the past 15 weeks about the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a timeline highlighting key quotes. (Keith and Gharib, 4/15)
The Associated Press:
Medical Intelligence Sleuths Tracked, Warned Of New Virus
In late February when President Donald Trump was urging Americans not to panic over the novel coronavirus, alarms were sounding at a little-known intelligence unit situated on a U.S. Army base an hour’s drive north of Washington. Intelligence, science and medical professionals at the National Center for Medical Intelligence were quietly doing what they have done for decades — monitoring and tracking global health threats that could endanger U.S. troops abroad and Americans at home. (Riechmann, 4/16)