Wednesday morning news – April 15, 2020

Trump halts U.S. funding to WHO » President Trump has officially halted funding for the World Health Organization. That as U.S. officials investigate the—quote—“organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” 

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden Tuesday, the president laid much of the blame for the global pandemic at the feet of the WHO. He said the group “failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan” that conflicted “with the Chinese government’s official accounts.” 

TRUMP: The WHO’s reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases, and it may be much more than that. The WHO has not addressed a single one of these concerns, nor provided a serious explanation. 

Trump again noted the WHO opposed his early decision to ban travel from China while many other nations followed the organization’s guidelines, keeping borders open to China. He added that accelerated the pandemic all around the world. 

The president said the United States is the world’s leading sponsor of the WHO, contributing nearly a half-billion dollars a year. And he said as such, the U.S. government has a duty to hold the group accountable. 

White House, states begin planning gradual reopening of economy » President Trump also said the White House is working on plans to gradually ease restrictions and reopen the country. 

Trump rankled some governors earlier this week by saying the federal government has absolute authority over how that process unfolds. 

But on Tuesday, he said everyone’s on the same team against this virus, and the governors will lead the way in their respective states. 

TRUMP: We’re all getting along and we all want to do the right thing. And I think they’re going to do a great job of leading their individual states. It will be a beautiful thing to watch. They’ll go and rely on their mayors and their local town officials. They’ll bring it right down, and Washington shouldn’t be doing that. 

But he said if he believes a state is mishandling the process or reopening too early, the White House will step in. 

Meantime, governors are already making their own plans to begin a gradual return to normal.

Some governors in the Northeast and along the West Coast announced separate agreements this week to coordinate the reopening of their economies. Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters…

NEWSOM: We just sent out a joint statement of a shared vision for a process and a protocol—a framework, we refer to it—for reopening, not just within our states, but more broadly as a region. 

Newsom is working with the governors of Washington and Oregon. 

And seven governors are teaming up on the East Coast. Both groups said reopening will be a gradual process and that health will remain the top priority. 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said now is definitely not the time to scale back restrictions. 

But he’s planning ahead with the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Navy removes some staff from hospital ship after testing positive for COVID-19 » The Navy has removed 126 medical staff members from its hospital ship docked in Los Angeles after seven of them tested positive for COVID-19. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The personnel from the USNS Mercy were taken to a nearby base and remain under quarantine. So far, none of them have needed hospitalization. 

It’s unclear where or how the sailors became infected.

All personnel were screened before boarding the ship, which arrived in L.A. late last month. 

None of the more than 1,000 personnel aboard were allowed to leave the ship once it departed San Diego. And the Mercy is only accepting patients not infected with the virus. 

Lt. Rochelle Rieger of the 3rd Fleet said “The only people going on and off the ship are the actual patients we’ve been treating so it’s very hard to trace where this came from.”

She said so far the ship has taken in only 20 patients from hospitals and none tested positive or showed any symptoms of the virus. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

IMF predicts worst year for global economy since Great Depression » The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that it expects the world economy in 2020 will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression. 

That as the IMF issued its latest forecast. The group said it expects the global economy to shrink 3 percent this year—far worse than its 0.1 percent dip during the Great Recession in 2009. 

But IMF officials believe the global economy will rebound in 2021 with 5.8 percent growth. It acknowledges, though, that prospects for a rebound next year are clouded by uncertainty.

Obama, Sanders endorse Biden for president » Former President Barack Obama has formally endorsed his former vice president. Obama said Tuesday that Democrats must unite behind Joe Biden. 

OBAMA: Right now, we need Americans of good will to unite in a great awakening against a politics that too often has been characterized by corruption, carelessness, self-dealing, disinformation, ignorance, and just plain meanness. 

That came one day after Biden’s one-time rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, offered his endorsement.

Biden’s nomination for president became all but official when Sanders ended his campaign last week.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) A pedestrian takes a picture of the USNS Mercy as it docks at the Port of Los Angeles, Friday, March 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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