US halts and cuts funds for WHO; Trump receives backlash

Trump announced the halt in U.S. funding for WHO on Tuesday. He accused WHO, as a the world’s health agency, of misleading the world about the COVID-19 outbreak in China and blaming it for the resulting high death tolls around globe.

Germany slammed Trump’s WHO decision as “blaming others” for the coronavirus. According to CBS, “Blaming others won’t help. The virus knows no borders,” wrote Heiko Maas (Germany’s Foreign Minister) on Twitter.

Bill Gates, billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder called this, “as dangerous as it sounds.”

Later, Gates retweeted WHO’s “work is slowing the spread of COVID-19, and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.”

Trump announced Wednesday, that the U.S. will cut WHO funding.

The US is the biggest contributor to the WHO, making payments of $400 million in 2019. It is 15% of its budget.

Some do agree with Trump’s point of view, as WHO’s hesitation in calling the Novel Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic for an extended period of time had potentially misled those in other parts of the world about the seriousness of the Novel Coronavirus, with Europe and the US seeing some of the heaviest effects.

However, COVID-19 vaccine is still in development, and some also worry about the effect of halting the funding on WHO could have on vaccine development.

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One of Leading Pork Processing Company closes due to COVID-19 Contraction

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and the mayor of Sioux Falls recommended at the Saturday news briefing to the Smithfield company that it’s suspending operation due to Smithfield employees contracting more than half of the state’s coronavirus cases.

Gov. Noem said about 240 Smithfield employees are sick out of 430 total active cases in the state. As a result, Smithfield Company in South Dakota will be closed for at least for 2 weeks. Meat processors in Iowa and Pennsylvania will also be closed because of coronavirus affected employees.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota facility accounts for 4%-5% of the US pork production and about 3,700 people work at South Dakota’s Smithfield facilities.

The employees will be on paid leave for 2 weeks while the plant is fully shut down. US consumers should expect to see some decline in the availability of pork products as a result of this shutdown.

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New Zealand’s Stringent Lockdown Keeps COVID-19 Related Death at 1

A total of 1,239 cases have been reported in the country, with 317 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University. The only one death who had a pre-existing condition, who was an elderly woman, the Washington Post reported.

On March 14, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden of New Zealand announced anyone entering the country would need to self isolate for two weeks. The New Zealand Government blocked the border to foreigners and by March 19 (with 28 confirmed for COVID-19).

First case having been confirmed on February 28, this move had taken less than a month.

Travel is a huge volume monetary source in New Zealand, but this country decided to pursue a complete lockdown, choosing life over income.

On March 23 (with confirmed 102 cases), Arden announced that the country was going into lockdown completely.

Now only 14 are still getting treated in the hospital, according to CNN.

Prime Minister Arden at a speech on Thursday, said, “We are turning a corner,” and lauded the New Zealanders for their hard work, saying, “And your commitment means our plan is working.”

Due to the stringent lockdown rules, no foreigners were allowed into New Zealand since March 19.

Arden stated, “You made the decision that together, we could protect one other. And you have. you have save lives.”

However, New Zealand is aware that it is still alone in its near complete battle against the Novel Coronavirus, as the rest of the globe is still in the process of battling the virus. She added, “but as I’ve said, this is going to be a marathon.”

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As New Jersey and New York See Decline, DC and Virginia See Incline

Monday, DC, Maryland, and Virginia saw their biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 related deaths, with up to 169.  Officials are concerned that the next hot spot will be DC and Philadelphia.  Although deaths are disproportionately concentrated among black residents, there is generally a 114 percent increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in DC region from the past week. Between Friday and Monday, there was an average of 393 new cases per day, up from average of 70 new cases a day March 22 to March 24.

40 percent originated in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County; DC and Northern Virginia accounted for more than 30 percent of new cases: 538 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 656 additional people awaiting test results. Maryland has hospitalized 1,059 people, with 184 released from isolation.

As DC, Maryland, and Virginia together reach 10,000 infected mark, officials warn people to stay home and to practice social distancing, as the area hospitals begin preparing extra beds to prepare for an influx of COVID-positive patients.

Although New York is seeing a decline in infection numbers, New York also saw its highest death rate today, 779 people.

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VA Treats Veterans for Coronavirus

Tents are being erected outside the Veterans Administration hospital on Galvez Street in New Orleans. These tents will serve as a drive-through testing site for coronavirus. (James Varney/ The Washington Times)

The Department of Veterans Affairs currently tracks Veterans who have tested positive for coronavirus. As of Monday, 204 Veteran patients were found to have coronavirus. There are 8 in the Washington DC area.
5 are self-quarantined at home, with three in the hospital. Two Veterans have died from the disease so far.
VA has so far administered over 1,524 coronavirus tests nationwide and plans to administer more as coronavirus continues to spread.

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Companies or Individuals? Republicans and Democrats Fight Over Who Should Get the Stimulus

Senate Democrats blocked a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill on Monday, as parties split on who should receive the money, at 49-46. 60 vote threshold is need to advance the legislation for a final debate on the Senate.

Democrats argued that the bill does not help families and health care providers enough, while Republicans argued that the bill offers financial assistance to the entire economy and should be passed before more people lose jobs.

Democrats are especially concerned that $500 billion fund would be for businesses, states and cities with wide latitudes to spend, would focus on the big corporations and Wall Street over actual health care.

Republicans argued that Democrats are focusing only on special interest and organized labor.

As Dow Jones has lost 10,000 points in six weeks, with several million Americans without jobs, and it seems that the Senate is caught arguing about who should get what, yet again.

Current plan is for $500 billion loan program with $425 billion for companies, states and cities, $50 billion for passenger airline companies, $8 billion for cargo air companies, and $17 billion for firms deemed important for national security, with $350 billion for small businesses.

When or if the stimulus plan will actually pass, is a question that Congress cannot yet answer, and one, impacting the lives of many Americans.

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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part with out the express written permission.