Wednesday morning news – May 20, 2020

Trump to WHO: Shape up or lose U.S. funding » President Trump said Tuesday that he’s sending a letter to the World Health Organization with a clear ultimatum…

TRUMP: Basically they have to clean up their act. They have to do a better job. They have to be much more fair to other countries, including the United States, or we’re not going to be involved with them anymore. 

The letter gives the WHO 30 days to make substantial changes or the United States will permanently cut off funding. Washington sent nearly a half-billion dollars to the UN health agency last year. The White House froze funding last month pending an investigation. 

As the outbreak spread, the WHO largely deferred to China and heaped praise on Chinese leader Xi Jinping even as many experts now say China was concealing the extent of the outbreak. 

Many other WHO member states share Trump’s concerns, but say now is not the time to address them. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a probe is warranted…

LEYEN: But let us for now focus on our most immediate challenge.  

Member states met virtually Tuesday for day two of the organization’s annual assembly. And many shared their concerns, including the agency caving to Chinese pressure to exclude Taiwan from the WHO.

But members ultimately approved a resolution that backs cooperation to find tools to address COVID-19.

White House defends Trump’s use of Hydroxychloroquine » The White House is pushing back against criticism after President Trump’s announcement Monday that he has been taking Hydroxychloroquine. That’s an anti-malaria drug that some health experts believe could help with the coronavirus. 

He said he’s been taking it as a preventive measure. 

TRUMP: I think it gives you an additional level of safety. But you can ask, many doctors are in favor of it. Many frontline workers won’t go there unless they have the hydroxy. And so again, this is an individual decision to make. 

The FDA warned health professionals last month that the drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of hospital or research settings.

It has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and studies of its effectiveness against COVID-19 have produced mixed results. And critics say Trump’s example could lead many people to misuse the drug. 

But the White House noted that the drug is only available by prescription and has been widely used for other purposes for decades.

Powell, Mnuchin testify before the Senate » Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified Tuesday about what it will take to pull the U.S. economy out of its coronavirus nosedive. Both men spoke to members of the Senate Banking Committee.

Mnuchin stressed the urgency of getting American businesses back up and running. And he said he believes that can and is being done responsibly. 

MNUCHIN: I couldn’t be more proud of the medical advice that we’re getting and the way that the economy is opening up in a safe way. 

But he warned that prolonged business shutdowns would pose long-term threats to the economy, adding—quote—“There is risk of permanent damage.”

Powell said the Fed’s lending programs for medium-sized businesses and state and local governments will launch very soon.

POWELL: We expect all of them to be stood up and ready to go by end of this month. I don’t say that it won’t be a day or two into June, but that’s our expectation and the funds should be flowing directly after that. 

While the Fed can loan money, only Congress can approve stimulus payments and forgivable loans like those in the Paycheck Protection Program.

And Powell once again stressed the need for Congress to consider approving more financial aid soon to avoid a deeper recession.

Oregon Supreme Court halts judge’s ruling, keeps stay-at-home orders in place » The Oregon Supreme Court halted a judge’s order which had tossed out the governor’s coronavirus lockdown orders. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff ruled on Monday that Governor Kate Brown overstepped her authority by extending stay-at-home orders past a 28-day limit. The judge said the governor needed the approval of the legislature to extend the orders.

But hours later, the state’s Supreme Court stayed that ruling pending review by all the high court justices.

In a statement, Brown praised the court’s action. Her words, “There are no shortcuts for us to return to life as it was before this pandemic. Moving too quickly could return Oregon to the early days of this crisis, when we braced ourselves for hospitals to be overfilled.”

The lower court judge had issued his opinion in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by 10 churches arguing the directives were unconstitutional.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Disney Springs in Orlando partially reopens this week » Walt Disney World is preparing to let some third-party shops and restaurants reopen at its entertainment complex Disney Springs this week with new safety measures.

All workers and visitors over age 2 will be required to wear face masks. And everyone will get temperature checks. The number of guests will be limited, and extra hand sanitizer and hand washing stations have been added. 

Last week, Universal Orlando allowed a half-dozen restaurants and two retail shops to reopen at its Citywalk entertainment complex.

Neither Disney World nor Universal officials have said when they plan to reopen theme parks and hotels at their resorts.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Washington. 

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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