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Protesters chant ‘lock her up’ after Michigan governor’s stay-at-home order | World news

Thousands of people protested Michigan’s stay-at-home order at the state capitol on Wednesday, with protesters chanting “Lock her up!” to show their displeasure with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s orders to keep people at home and businesses locked during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hundreds of flag-waving, honking demonstrators drove past the capitol. As snow fell, others got out of their vehicles and raised signs, one of which read, “Gov Whitmer We Are Not Prisoners”. Another said “Michigander Against Gretchens Abuses”.

The protest, in Lansing, was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, who have dubbed the effort “Operation gridlock”, with the slogan: “She’s driving us out of business. We’re driving to Lansing.”

Hours later, Whitmer shot back, telling reporters that the rally put health at risk.

“The sad irony here was the protest is they don’t like being in this stay-at-home order and they may have just caused a need to lengthen it,” Whitmer said.

The ripples of the protest were widely felt: traffic was barely moving for miles in some areas of Lansing.

“This arbitrary blanket spread of shutting down businesses, about putting all of these workers out of business, is just a disaster. It’s an economic disaster for Michigan,” a coalition member, Meshawn Maddock, said. “And people are sick and tired of it.”

Whitmer, a Democrat, extended a stay-at-home order through 30 April and has shut down schools and businesses deemed non-essential. The governor acknowledged the pain but said the restrictions were necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness that has killed more than 1,900 Michigan residents and overwhelmed hospitals in the Detroit area.

People protest against the state’s stay-at-home order as the spread of the coronavirus continues. Photograph: Seth Herald/Reuters

Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Whitmer, a popular Democratic governor, in recent days as she has requested emergency medical supplies for Michigan. The “lock her up” chant echoes those leveled by Trump supporters against his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton.

The protesters appear to be a vocal minority; Whitmer’s handling of the crisis receives a favorable review from 71% of Michigan residents.

Whitmer expressed sadness that the thousands of people who attended the protest may have jeopardized their own health by participating in close proximity without masks.

“We know this demonstration is going to come at a cost to people’s health,” Whitmer said. “That’s how Covid-19 spreads.”

The Democratic governor added that ignoring the social distancing guidelines would probably only serve to extend the stay-at-home order.

“I saw someone handing out candy to little kids barehanded,” the governor told reporters. “People are flying the Confederate flag, and untold numbers who gassed up on the way here or grabbed a bite on the way home. We know that this rally endangered people. This kind of activity will put more people at risk and, sadly, it could prolong the amount of time we have to be in this posture.”

Four sheriffs in the north-western Lower Peninsula called Whitmer’s orders a “vague framework of emergency laws” that are frustrating citizens. The Leelanau county sheriff, Mike Borkovich, said people did not understand why they could not take a child fishing in a motorboat but they could use a kayak.

“We’re trying to keep the peace with people … The economy is coming apart in northern Michigan. People are upset,” Borkovich told the Associated Press. “People are frantic to get back to work. They have been very edgy.”

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Pelosi Congratulates Democrats for Blocking Billions in Small Business Coronavirus Relief Funding

Nancy Pelosi congratulated Senate Democrats for blocking $250 billion in coronavirus relief funding for small businesses.

Pelosi: “I Congratulate the Senate Democrats” for Blocking Funding

Speaking on MSNBC, Pelosi congratulated her colleagues in the Senate for blocking an emergency extension to the Paycheck Protection Program, despite millions of small businesses relying on its funding that could run out as early as Friday. The PPP had set out $350 billion in forgiveable loans to help these businesses through the coronavirus pandemic, with 880,000 applications for a total of $217 billion being approved by Monday.

“So last week when they came and asked for a quarter of a trillion dollars in 48 hours, I said, ‘well I don’t think, let’s see how we can open this up to many more people,’” Pelosi said. “So Chuck Schumer and I, this all happened on the Senate side and I congratulate the Senate Democrats, they went to the floor when Mitch McConnell went in for this [$250 billion] and they said they objected.”

RELATED: Pelosi Sides With WHO Over America: Claims Trump’s Move to Halt Funding Is ‘Illegal’

The Democrats Are Spending Their Time On Identity Politics!

With around 62% of the emergency coronavirus funding for small businesses being already allocated, up from 48% on Friday, and over 200,000 applications for relief still flooding in, it’s astonishing to me that Pelosi can celebrate the rejection of this. Rather than simply passing the bill instead, Pelosi and the Democrats are demanding extra billions to go towards hospitals and healthcare facilities to help fight the coronavirus, which is in fairness, an admirable destination for funding, but also want to guarantee that women and minorities will be the first to receive any of the small business loans!

RELATED: Lindsey Graham Obliterates Nancy Pelosi After She Blames Trump For Americans Dying From COVID-19

This is completely ridiculous. Once again, the Democrats are playing identity politics during a time of crisis. Firstly, why should anyone receive preferential treatment for anything just for an accident of their birth, and secondly, even if you think they should, why would they add all this bureaucratic red tape to a system that should be designed to simply hand out this funding as fast as they possibly can?!

What makes this even more maddening is that Pelosi and the rest of the House are off with full pay! Like always, it’s one rule for the Democrats, and one rule for everyone else.

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Trump Releases Brutal Campaign Ad Tying Biden to China at the Worst Possible Time

Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president

China is quickly becoming the pariah of the global community, a downfall that started after the country’s botched attempt to suppress news of the novel coronavirus led to a worldwide pandemic.

Now, many are demanding the Asian giant be held accountable for inadvertently unleashing the virus on humanity.

Needless to say, it’s not the best time to be seen as someone who is soft on China — especially if you’re running for president.

For sitting President Donald Trump, that’s not a worry. The business mogul has been critical of the communist powerhouse since the opening days of his 2016 campaign, openly telling crowds and the media about the threat the country poses to America.

Trump’s biggest opponent, however, has historically held much different views on China.

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That’s why presumptive Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden is now the center of new ad from the Trump campaign slamming the Democrat for his ties to China:

While the ad paints a damning picture of Biden, some of the connections and claims made in the video spot need to be taken with a grain of salt.

As pointed out, there are several misleading points in the ad.

Is Biden fit to be president?

Rumors of Hunter Biden’s haul of investments from Chinese companies that were mentioned in the ad remain unproven, despite the fact that the son of then-Vice President Biden tagged along with his father during a 2013 trip to the country.

The inclusion in the ad of Asian-American politician Gary Locke next to a Chinese flag prompted outcry from the left, but a figure from the Trump campaign quickly responded.

“The shot with the flags specifically places Biden in Beijing in 2013. It’s for a reason. That’s the Hunter Biden trip,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh wrote. “Memory Lane for ol’ Joe.”

RELATED: NYT Exec. Editor Admits Paper Changed Biden Sex Assault Story After Campaign Thought It Looked Bad

The ad’s overarching theme raises a valid question: History shows us that Joe Biden has no problem bowing to China, so why should the American people trust that this will change?

At one point, Biden even helped sell out iconic American industries to China, facilitating the censorship of Hollywood films to better suit what China’s communist overlords allow their people to see.

By all appearances, Biden is now gearing up to fight his image as a soft-on-China politician.

According to the Democratic candidate’s own campaign website, Biden seeks to win the “competition for the future against China,” and ensure human rights abuses in the country are addressed.

Luckily for the former vice president, chances are slim that he’ll be ambushed with an uncomfortable question about his past dealings in regard to China — and it’s all thanks to social distancing.

Biden’s stream of gaffes and mishaps has slowed due to the shelter-in-place orders throughout the country.

With no in-person public appearances, there’s little chance for the former vice president to flub a line or forget where he is.

While the Democratic candidate already has his hands full defending the state of his mental health, his history when it comes to dealing with China now sits as another hurdle to his campaign’s future success.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Mylan’s Robert Coury back as executive chairman

Mylan NV on Wednesday named Chairman Robert Coury to the role of executive chairman to help steer the drugmaker through the coronavirus pandemic and its delayed merger with Pfizer Inc’s off-patent branded drug unit, Upjohn.

Coury had previously served as executive chairman between 2012 and 2016. He was also the company’s chief executive officer for a decade, during which he substantially increased the company’s generic drug footprint.

Mylan is now banking on that experience to help it through a critical time for drugmakers and corporate America in general, as the global economy heads for what is likely to be a deep recession.

“Given the unprecedented current operating environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic … the Mylan Board has determined that it is in the best interests of the company for Mr. Coury to assume this position effective immediately,” Mylan said in a statement.

Coury will also partner with Mylan CEO Heather Bresch to work on the merger, which aims to bring the company’s emergency allergy shot EpiPen and Pfizer’s blockbuster treatments, Viagra and Lipitor, under one umbrella.

The deal, previously expected to close in mid-2020, was delayed to the second half of this year due to the pandemic. Coury will stay on as executive chairman of the combined company, to be named Viatris. (Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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U.S. funds that would have gone to WHO could be given to aid groups: Trump officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States could redirect to other aid groups some $400 million it would have paid the World Health Organization this year, senior Trump administration officials said on Wednesday after President Donald Trump halted funding for the U.N. agency over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) during an executive board meeting on update on the coronavirus outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Washington has already paid the Geneva-based WHO some $58 million this year, the officials said, half of what it is required to pay for 2020 – known as an assessed contribution.

“We’re stopping that second tranche,” said a senior Trump administration official. “We can very easily give this money to the Red Cross” or other similar organizations.

The United States also provides several hundred million dollars to the WHO every year in voluntary funding tied to specific programs like polio eradication, vaccine-preventable disease, HIV and hepatitis, tuberculosis, and maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.

It was not immediately clear how much voluntary funding the United States had already provided for WHO programs in 2020.

“We can find another partner that is not the WHO. That money will be spent with other partners,” a second senior Trump administration official said.

Trump announced on Tuesday that U.S. funding would be halted while Washington reviewed the WHO’s role “in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” which he said was likely to take 60 to 90 days.

The move prompted widespread condemnation as reported global coronavirus infections passed the 2 million mark. The head of the WHO, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he regretted Trump’s decision, and said now is the time for the world to be united in the fight against the virus.

Trump on Tuesday accused the WHO of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the virus, saying it likely led to a wider outbreak than otherwise would have occurred.

Trump’s decision came amid criticism of his administration’s response to the worst epidemic in a century, from some of his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. Just this week, some Republican governors pushed back on Trump’s assertion that he had “total authority” to order states to reopen businesses that have been closed to stop the virus’ spread.

The senior administration officials said the U.S. Congress was unable to stop them from redirecting WHO funding elsewhere.

Some Democrats disagreed, promising they would try to include funding for the WHO in the next coronavirus relief bill.

“This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Republicans in Congress, who rarely break from White House policy, quickly backed Trump’s decision.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a vocal Trump supporter who heads the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, called the WHO “incompetent” and demanded new leadership. “This is a critical time for worldwide public health and we cannot afford China apologists running the WHO,” Graham said.

Two sources who track U.S. funding to international organizations said Trump’s action was serious. “This is not an idle threat. There are actual implications to this,” one said.

The sources said the U.S. Agency for International Development had been due to make a voluntary payment last week of $43 million to the WHO for polio surveillance and it was now blocked.

The WHO is a U.N. specialized agency – an independent international body that works with the United Nations. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday it was “not the time” to reduce resources for the body.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Michelle Nichols and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mary Milliken, Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler

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Mnuchin, Schumer rev up talks as small business aid runs dry

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a key coronavirus rescue fund nearly exhausted, negotiations are accelerating in Washington over President Donald Trump’s…

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a key coronavirus rescue fund nearly exhausted, negotiations are accelerating in Washington over President Donald Trump’s $250 billion emergency request to help smaller employers across the country keep workers on their payroll.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke Wednesday morning about legislation to shore up a paycheck subsidy program that has nearly reached its $349 billion lending limit. House and Senate aides were set to meet with Treasury officials later in the day.

Reaching a deal won’t be easy. The Capitol is largely shuttered, requiring consensus from all sides for any legislation to pass, and top GOP leaders are vowing to stick closely to Trump’s request despite Democratic demands. Long-standing feuds and rivalries hang over the talks, including a toxic relationship between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump.

But the unprecedented legislative environment gives Democrats considerable influence, even if their funding requests for hospitals and state and local governments may have to be scaled back significantly or dropped, at least for now. Democrats blocked a fast-track bid to pass the funding last week, and Republicans in turn stymied their efforts for additional funding for other priorities in a brief debate that was mostly a messaging exercise.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had no comment, according to spokesman David Popp. The Senate is away from Washington through May 4, though it convenes twice each week for pro forma sessions that could be used to pass more coronavirus aid — though only if no senator objects.

With leaders unable to readily summon lawmakers to Washington, the usual power dynamics are scrambled, especially in the House. There, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for example, can stymie legislation more easily than if members are present, and Pelosi, D-Calif., cannot rule the House with her typical tight grip.

“Tell Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to STOP blocking critical funding for small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program is about to run out of money — millions of jobs are hanging in the balance. Congress MUST ACT!” McCarthy wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

At issue is a $350 billion paycheck protection program that’s a centerpiece of last month’s $2.2 trillion rescue bill. The program gives grants to businesses with fewer than 500 workers so that they can maintain payroll and pay rent while shutting down their businesses during social distancing edicts.

The program is quickly running dry after being open for only a matter of days, though it’s unclear how much money has actually been distributed to businesses. Mnuchin says an additional $250 billion is needed immediately.

But Democrats want money for hospitals burdened under COVID-19 caseloads and additional funding for states and local governments straining as the economy slides into recession.

Democrats also want to make sure the paycheck protection program is opened up more to businesses that don’t have established relationships with banks that have been accepting applications for rescue funding.

“We cannot allow the billions, hundreds of billions of dollars being spent to fight the horror of the coronavirus and the impact on our economy to further harden the disparity of the lack of access to credit for so many in the small business community,” Pelosi said Wednesday afternoon on CNN. She also reiterated demands for “desperate state and local governments” and hospitals.

Pelosi is pressing to add money to be distributed by community development financial institutions, which are small, nontraditional lenders that focus on making loans in underdeveloped and underserved neighborhoods, typically communities with larger minority populations.

The outlook for the legislation is unclear at best, and negotiators may not be able to meet a potential deadline of Thursday afternoon’s pro forma session.

Eventually, the need for consensus seems likely to result in a relatively limited package.

“I don’t see big new issues being put in the mix here,” said Steve Elmendorf, a veteran Democratic lobbyist.

“It’s a matter of adding money to things they’ve already done so long as the amounts aren’t out of whack with reality,” said Hazen Marshall, a former GOP leadership aide who lobbies Congress. “They can probably thread this needle if they can just keep it to money.”

Where the negotiation heads isn’t clear, but Republicans are increasingly agitating to help rural hospitals, while Democrats are also keen to boost aid to cash-strapped states and local governments whose revenues have cratered. Aiding the states may be a stretch for now, however, as the issue can easily provoke fights between large, high-tax states like California and New York and smaller states more typically run by Republicans.

Senate Democrats are already eyeing the next coronavirus bill, proposing that it include $30 billion for a comprehensive federal plan to ramp up testing and its supply chain for diagnostic materials, as well as the ability to trace the spread of COVID-19.

Greater access to testing is a key element to have in place in order to reopen the economy, as Trump is itching to do. The proposal envisions emergency money to quickly scale up testing and develop a pipeline to ensure an adequate supply of material.

“We need testing to be fast, free, and everywhere,” said Schumer, D-N.Y.


Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report from Washington.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Germany To Begin Opening Schools And Shops But Ban Public Gatherings Until August 31

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced plans to begin opening schools and shops in April and May, but public gatherings will remain banned in the country until August 31, numerous sources reported Wednesday. 

As of next week, some small businesses will be able to reopen and schools will begin to gradually reopen beginning May 4, according to CNBC. Social distancing measures were extended until May 3, and religious and large gatherings will remain banned until at least August 31. (RELATED: Merkel Says Up To 70% Of Germans Could Catch Coronavirus)

Businesses smaller than 800 square meters in size are allowed to reopen, as well as car dealerships, bike shops, and bookstores regardless of size, according to CNBC. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a press conference on German government’s measures to avoid further spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, on April 15, 2020. (BERND VON JUTRCZENKA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“We don’t have a lot of leeway, we have to remain focused and continue,” Merkel said in a press conference Wednesday. “Our consultations therefore decided that we cannot get ahead of ourselves. We have to understand that we must live the virus so long as there’s no medicine or vaccine.”

Germany has had more than 133,000 people test positive for the virus and 3,592 people have died as of Wednesday, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Germany saw its new coronavirus cases drop for the fifth consecutive day Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.

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COVID Pandemic Giving Americans a Taste of Authoritarianism

You like East Germany in 2020?

Bernie Sanders has left the presidential political stage, so we may never get to see his cranky blend of Soviet, Venezuelan and Vermonter statism up close. But we may have found the next best thing.

The coronavirus pandemic is a real threat. COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in the United States. I’m not and won’t minimize any of that.

But no one should minimize the lengths governments are now going to in the name of keeping us safe. We’ve had pandemics before. They didn’t result in the strong-arm Big Brother government we are subjected to now. Welcome to your free 60-day trial of authoritarian government. You have been compelled.

Some states have decided what you can buy, and what stores like Costco, Walmart and Target can sell.

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Elizabeth, New Jersey, is deploying its own miniature air force to make sure its residents stay the appropriate social distance apart.

Five drones equipped with loudspeakers now shout at people to stay the hell away from each other. You can be fined up to $1000 if you don’t do what the drone orders you to do, so never forget to obey your drones.

In Brighton, Colorado, police arrested a man in a local park. His crime? He went to the park near his house to play ball with his daughter. In the days of lockdown, that earned him a humiliating handcuffing in front of his own kid. The police later apologized, but the psychological damage was done.

In Florida, police arrested a pastor for holding church services. In Mississippi, police fined people $500 for attending a drive-in service. A Boston suburb is making people go one-way on a city sidewalk — and threatening fines if pedestrians fail to comply.

Are you concerned that the government is using the coronavirus pandemic to curtail our liberties?

Frisco, Texas, announced it was updating its city smartphone app to make it easier for people to snitch on their neighbors for not properly distancing themselves from others.

Salt Lake City set up a phone hotline for social distance snitches. Philadelphia cops put their hands all over a man and dragged him off a bus because he wasn’t wearing a face mask. Kentucky’s Democratic governor said those who attended Easter services will have their license plates recorded so they can be hunted down and put in mandatory quarantine.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened to impose “martial law” back in March. He hasn’t done that, but he did declare California a “nation-state” the other day, making it sound like he’s one step away from donning a hat and a military uniform with a chestful of medals like Kim Jong Un or Muammar Gaddafi.

At the national level, President Trump has led the federal response and wisely left much of the response up to the states. But that hasn’t stopped Dr. Anthony Fauci, his lead epidemiologist, from musing that the days of shaking hands are over.

Dr. Fauci has also suggested that America will transform into a “papers, please” nation in which we will have to carry proof of coronavirus antibodies in our blood. An “immunity passport” may become something you have to carry around in order to leave your home and live your life. You excited yet?

RELATED: Fred Weinberg: The Small Business Administration Cannot Be Trusted

“It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not,” Fauci said in an interview. “This is something that’s being discussed. I think it might actually have some merit, under certain circumstances.”

So if you don’t have proof that you’re immune, you have to stay in lockdown forever? Will a drone follow you home and report you to the Social Distance Enforcement Division of the State Police?

Will the government use our cell phone location data to track us, just in case we get the virus? Do you have to expose yourself to the virus so you can go back to work? Is this where the Chinese virus is taking us?

If so, then the Chinese virus is making us all Chinese in our politics.

Mao and his band of communist thugs won China’s civil war against the nationalists, led by Chiang Kai Shek, in 1949 and exiled freedom and liberty to the small island of Taiwan. In the decades since, the communists have locked mainland China down under ever more draconian restrictions on its citizens’ personal freedoms.

They’re using social media and CCTV cameras to track their citizens — and were doing that long before the pandemic sprung up out of Wuhan. They have banned Christian churches and used secret police to smoke out and imprison dissidents. When the virus popped up, the communists lied about it, and people and millions of jobs died.

Bernie and his bros loved the Soviets and are sympatico with China. They like a big, strong government telling everyone what to do.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was once caught fantasizing what it would be like if the United States became “China for a day.”

Now we know! Here in the land of the free, we’re imposing curfews, shutting down churches, declaring businesses “essential” or “nonessential” and closing them down without a lot of rhyme or reason, putting millions out of work — and then forcing them onto the government dole.

And authorities are turning friends and neighbors into snitches and informants. Is there a badge for joining the Social Distance Secret Police? Do you get to jump to the front of the line to get your Immunity Passport?

It’s possible to be worried about the threat of the virus, because it’s real, and at the same time be worried about the threat of a government flexing its muscles to keep its boot on our necks.

This 60-day trial of Super-Empowered Massive Government had better not last forever. It’s shockingly obvious that too many of our mayors, police chiefs, county commissioners and governors really want it to.

If you want to truly be free, take a moment to act like Socrates and don’t let ten minutes go by without questioning someone or something.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.

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American Nurses Association Calls Decision to Halt Funding to WHO ‘Misguided,’ Implores Trump to Reconsider

The American Nurses Association (ANA) criticized President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to halt U.S. funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump announced the funding hold during his Tuesday press briefing, suggesting that the international organization, which receives a major portion of its financing from the U.S., had mismanaged its response to the crisis. “With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” the president said.

But public health experts, medical practitioners and Democrats have pushed back against the decision.

“The decision to discontinue the United States funding for the World Health Organization at this time of the pandemic is misguided and will hinder global efforts to battle the coronavirus,” ANA President Ernest Grant said in a Wednesday statement.

“International cooperation among governments and the scientific and health care communities is essential to halt the spread of the disease and share tools, strategies and solutions to mitigate its impact,” he added.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivers a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic from WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 30.

The ANA’s criticism followed similar concerns expressed by the American Medical Association (AMA).

“During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the World Health Organization is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier,” AMA President Patrice Harris said in a Tuesday statement.

Speaking to CNN on Wednesday morning, Harris reiterated the AMA’s position.

“This virus knows no boundaries. This is a global pandemic. It certainly requires global cooperation,” she said. “Infections in other parts of the world could certainly impact us here in the United States. It has.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, condemned Trump’s decision, noting that it violated the law.” This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” Pelosi said in a Wednesday statement.

Democrats argue that the funding hold violates the same law as Trump’s efforts to withhold military aid from Ukraine, which spurred the House investigation leading to his impeachment. “We can only be successful in defeating this global pandemic through a coordinated international response with respect for science and data,” Pelosi said.

But Republicans who back Trump’s decision to withhold funding from the WHO argue that the international organization is biased in favor of China.

“The current WHO leadership has proven to be incompetent and shown overwhelming evidence of China bias,” GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted on Wednesday.

The WHO is led by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, who assumed his role as director-general in 2017 after being backed by Beijing. Ghebreyesus has spoken positively about China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, despite significant international criticism.

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Trump Pulls WHO Funding, Says Organization ‘Must Be Held Accountable’

President Donald Trump made it official Tuesday that the administration was halting money to the World Health Organization, the international body that said in January that COVID-19 could not be spread by human-to-human contact, and praised China’s response to the virus. 

“Our countries are now experiencing—look all over the world—tremendous death and economic devastation because those tasked with protecting us by being truthful and transparent failed to do so,” Trump said. “It would have been so easy to be truthful. And so much death has been caused by their mistakes. We will continue to engage with the WHO to see if it can make meaningful reforms.”

Trump said funding will be stopped during a review of the organization. 

“American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million per year, and even less,” Trump said. “As the organization’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.”

“One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations,” Trump continued, adding, “The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above lifesaving measures.”     

The United States contributes 14.7% of the World Health Organization’s $38 billion budget, while China contributes only 0.21%, according to WHO’s numbers.

According to WHO, contributions from the U.S. government, American citizens, and U.S.-based charities make up 76% of all voluntary contributions to the organization. That amounted to $945.6 million from 2016 to 2017.

Congress authorized about $123 million in taxpayer funding for WHO in the last fiscal year, and Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget request proposed to reduce funding to about $58 million.

The announced review by the administration also comes as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has begun an investigation into the WHO. 

“The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet, and share information in a timely and transparent fashion,” Trump said from the Rose Garden during the daily press briefing. “The world depends on the WHO to work with countries to ensure that accurate information about international health threats is shared in a timely manner. If it’s not, to independently tell the world the truth about what is happening.”

Trump also faulted the WHO for delays in declaring a public health emergency that he said “cost valuable time, tremendous amounts of time.”  

On Jan. 14, WHO unquestioningly circulated China’s official talking points in a tweet, saying, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China.”

“The WHO failed to investigate credible reports in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts,” Trump said. “There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate immediately. Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human contact despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary.” 

Brett D. Schaefer, a fellow in international regulatory affairs at The Heritage Foundation, contends this may not be the best time to cut funding for the WHO, and worse yet, could make it more difficult to hold the organization accountable. 

“Instead of ending funding during the current crisis, the U.S. should condition future funding to specific actions by the World Health Organization,” Schaefer wrote in an op-ed for The Daily Signal.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Jan. 30 that “China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response.” 

China backed Tedros in May 2017 when he ran for the top job at the World Health Organization. 

During the press conference, Trump also announced the formation of Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, which would involve bringing together leaders from different sectors of the economy and American life.

“We have a list of people that I’ll be speaking to over the next very short period of time, in many cases, tomorrow,” Trump said.

Kay C. James, president of The Heritage Foundation, is among those in the thought leaders group, which also includes former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and John Allison, former president and CEO of the Cato Institute. Others involved include top executives from health care, retail, sports, tech, and agriculture, among other sectors.