COVID-19

Trump threatens to end WHO funding over “repeated missteps” in COVID-19 response

David Brancaccio, Victoria Craig, and Alex Schroeder May 19, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
HTML EMBED:
COPY
In a late-night tweet, the president warned the WHO it has 30 days to make "substantive improvements" in becoming more independent. Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images
COVID-19

Trump threatens to end WHO funding over “repeated missteps” in COVID-19 response

David Brancaccio, Victoria Craig, and Alex Schroeder May 19, 2020
In a late-night tweet, the president warned the WHO it has 30 days to make "substantive improvements" in becoming more independent. Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

President Donald Trump late Monday night criticized the World Health Organization and called it a “puppet of China.” He set a short deadline for changes, threatening a permanent freeze on U.S. funding for the WHO.

Following that, China accused the United States of trying to shift the blame for what it called an incompetent virus response by the U.S.

Trump has accused the WHO of lacking independence from China based on a review his administration has carried out. In his late-night tweet, the president warned the WHO it has 30 days to make “substantive improvements” in becoming more independent, or risk permanently losing American funding, which the president froze back in April.

Last year, U.S. contributions accounted for just under 15% of the WHO’s overall funding. If the president follows through on his threat, that would leave a fairly large operational hole for the organization.

The WHO works to tackle not just the COVID-19 pandemic, but HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, polio, measles — and it carries out a number of informational health campaigns around the world.

There’s been no response from the WHO itself, but back in April when the president announced the funding freeze, the UN’s chief said it was “not the time” to cut funds from the WHO.

China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday accused the U.S. of trying to mislead the public to smear China and distract from its own handling of the crisis.

This all comes amid a meeting of the World Health Assembly this week where member states have agreed to conduct an independent investigation into how the pandemic was handled “at the earliest appropriate moment,” though no timeline for that has been set.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

The latest: President Donald Trump signed an executive action directing $400 extra a week in unemployment benefits. But will that aid actually reach people? It’s still unclear. Trump directed federal agencies to send $300 dollars in weekly aid, taken from the federal disaster relief fund, and called on states to provide an additional $100. But states’ budgets are stretched thin as it is.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.