Apr 15, 2020 - Health

WHO chief reacts to Trump halting U.S. funds over coronavirus response

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing Wednesday that he "regrets" President Trump's decision to halt U.S. funding, pointing out that the coronavirus is not the only health crisis that the group works to combat.

The big picture: Tedros said the WHO is reviewing the impact that the withdrawal of U.S. funding will have on its operations, adding that the agency will work with its partners "to fill any financial gaps we face and to ensure our work continues uninterrupted." He also said that the agency's controversial response to the pandemic will be reviewed "in due course."

  • Since Trump's announcement on Wednesday, an array of world leaders, public health experts and business groups across have condemned the decision as short-sighted, especially as the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of blaming others instead of taking responsibility, adding in a statement: "This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged."

What he's saying:

"With support from the people and government of the U.S., WHO works to improve the health of many of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. WHO is not only fighting COVID-19. We're also working to address polio, measles, malaria, Ebola, HIV, tuberculosis, malnutrition, cancer, diabetes, mental health and many other diseases and conditions. We also work with countries to strengthen health systems and improve access to live-saving health services.
WHO is reviewing the impact of our work of any withdrawal of US funding and we work with our partners to fill any financial gaps we face and to ensure our work continues uninterrupted."
— WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Go deeper: Opposition erupts to Trump halting WHO funding

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Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

Why it matters: The autopsy contradicts preliminary findings from the Hennepin County medical examiner, who found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation,” according to charging documents against Chauvin. The official examination is still ongoing.

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President Trump berated the nation’s governors in a video teleconference call Monday, calling many of them "weak" and demanding tougher crackdowns on the protests that erupted throughout the country following the killing of George Floyd, according to audio of the call.

The latest: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing Monday that Trump's call for law enforcement to "dominate" protesters referred to "dominating the streets" with a robust National Guard presence in order to maintain the peace.

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President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on Monday about Trump's plans to expand September's G7 meeting in Washington to include Russia, according to the Russian government's readout of the call.

The big picture: The phone call between the two leaders, which the Kremlin says was initiated by Trump, comes amid six consecutive days of mass unrest in the U.S. over police brutality and racial inequality. The White House confirmed the call took place and said a readout was forthcoming.