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President Trump announced Tuesday that the U.S. is placing a hold on funding to the World Health Organization for 60–90 days over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, pending a review.

Driving the news: Trump accused the WHO of "severely mismanaging and covering up" the coronavirus crisis, adding that the U.S. "has a duty to insist on full accountability."

  • "With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible," Trump said at a briefing in the Rose Garden.
  • "If we cannot trust them, if this is what we will receive from the WHO, our country will be forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals." 

By the numbers: The WHO's 2018–2019 budget was about $6 billion, and the U.S. is by far the biggest donor of any country, contributing more than $400 million to the organization last year.

  • "American taxpayers provided between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year, or even less," Trump said Tuesday.
  • "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.”

Behind the scenes: Trump has been fuming for days about what he sees as the WHO's botched response to the pandemic and its deference to China.

  • "The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look," Trump tweeted last week.
  • Trump's national security team has rallied behind him, believing that the U.S. needed to go beyond public statements and make the WHO feel some pain for its missteps, according to officials involved in the internal discussions.
  • Our thought bubble: The decision gives Trump somebody else to blame and a way to deflect from his own missteps in handling the virus.

Details: Below are some of Trump's specific complaints, which he said led him to his decision to freeze U.S. funding:

  • "The WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion. ... The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable."
  • "The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts. There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate."
  • "Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening, despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary. "
  • "The delays the WHO experienced in declaring a public health emergency cost valuable time, tremendous amounts of time."
  • "The inability of the WHO to obtain virus samples to this day has deprived the scientific community of essential data."
  • "The WHO has not addressed a single one of these concerns nor provided a serious explanation that acknowledges its own mistakes, of which there were many."

Background: Over the past week, officials within the White House's Office of Management and Budget have been working on a menu of options for how to snub the WHO. Trump administration officials told Axios the options fall along two tracks.

  • The most likely route is to reprogram U.S. funding that was allocated to the WHO, moving it to other international organizations that can administer it for comparable purposes, officials said.
  • A more dramatic, but less likely, approach is to send a rescissions package to Congress, rescinding from the federal budget funds already allocated to WHO. A similar approach was adopted in 2017 when the U.S. cut $285 million from its funding to the United Nations.
  • Trump did not reveal on Tuesday which mechanism he will use to halt funding to the organization.

What they're saying: António Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, to which the WHO reports, said in a statement, "Now is a time for unity in the global battle to push the COVID-19 pandemic into reverse, not a time to cut the resources of the ... WHO, which is spearheading and coordinating the global body’s efforts."

Go deeper: Aides prepare options for Trump to shun WHO over coronavirus

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Texas governor: "All hostages are out alive and safe"

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images

All four hostages have been safely released after a day-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Saturday night.

The latest: "Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," said police chief Michael Miller of Colleyville, located roughly 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The other hostage had been released earlier Saturday.

The new normal: Google searches reveal America's COVID shopping habits

Data: The New Normal; Google Trends; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

As the pandemic enters its third year, some of America's COVID-era shopping habits — including strong demand for tequila and sweatpants — are here to stay.

Driving the news: Axios worked with Google Trends and the Schema Design firm to create The New Normal, which analyzes the products Americans have Googled since 2020. Items with a lasting increase in search interest help fill in the details of what our "new normal" looks like.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: You can start ordering free COVID tests Wednesday — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy — Biden deploying military medical staff to help overwhelmed hospitals.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— Nurses across the U.S. strike against COVID working conditions— CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: Biden admin threatens to take back Arizona's COVID aid over anti-mask rules — Students across U.S. walkout of classes to demand safer COVID protocols — West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker

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