Yesterday, President Trump said he'll halt all US funds to the World Health Organization.
No, you read that right. Funding will be frozen while the Trump admin reviews the org's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which will take 60 to 90 days. One thing Trump's blaming the WHO for is not supporting travel bans. In February, the Trump admin restricted some travel from China (where COVID-19 was discovered), and warned Americans not to travel there. That same month, the WHO continued to advise against travel restrictions to places with COVID-19 outbreaks.
He also said the WHO should have called out China for its "lack of transparency." The org previously praised China for its strict lockdown measures in its Hubei province and for the gov's "transparency" in tackling the virus. But the US intel community reportedly found that China underreported its confirmed cases and death toll. Trump says the WHO apparently helped cause a "20-fold" increase in cases worldwide and covered up the spread of the virus.
The US is the largest contributor to the organization, providing more than $400 million last year. For context, the WHO's budget was about $6 billion for 2018-2019. Experts have warned that suspending funding – especially in the middle of a pandemic – could have negative consequences as the org has distributed test kits and is working on a vaccine. But Trump says the WHO should be held accountable.
It's unclear. But Trump's announcement comes as he faces criticism for his response to the outbreak back home. He's been accused of things like downplaying the threat of the virus and failing to provide widespread testing. The country's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that the US "could have saved lives" if the admin implemented social distancing rules earlier on. But the White House said the admin took "bold action" to protect Americans amid the outbreak.
There are nearly 2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide. The WHO, along with countries across the globe, are working to stop the spread as quickly as possible. But the timing of Trump's announcement could throw a wrench into those efforts.
Today, voters hit the polls in South Korea's parliamentary election – making it the first country to hold a national election since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 47 countries have reportedly postponed or canceled their races due to the outbreak. But not South Korea. The country has had around 10,590 confirmed cases, and has been a leader in slowing the spread of infections at home, thanks to measures like drive-thru testing clinics and contact tracing.
South Korea – which hasn't ordered a lockdown – put several precautions in place at polling locations: checking voters' temperatures, disinfecting polling booths, and providing separate booths for people with high temps and who are self-quarantining. The country also allowed people to vote early, with more than 11 million people taking advantage of that option.
With all 300 seats up for grabs in the National Assembly, today's contest is seen as a referendum of President Moon Jae-in's Democratic Party of Korea and how it's handled the pandemic. Moon reportedly said this election could provide a roadmap for countries (hint: the US) who are holding elections in the future as they try to strike a balance between prioritizing people's health and their voting rights.
A federal court. This week, it brought back Obama-era nutrition standards for school meal programs. Former first lady Michelle Obama championed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which added more fruits, veggies, whole grain, and low-sodium foods to kids' meals. But in 2018, the Trump admin scaled parts of it back – easing restrictions on sodium and whole grain standards. It argued that these foods can be costly for schools. Now, a federal judge is saying 'you can't do that.' And is bringing some of the nutrition standards back.
Lunch wars: The Trump admin has also proposed loosening requirements on the serving size of fruits and veggies in school and summer meal programs. The public can comment on that proposal until April 22.
Former President Barack Obama. Yesterday, he endorsed his former VP, Joe Biden, as the Democratic presidential candidate. Obama said Biden "has all the qualities we need in a president right now," and urged unity in order to defeat President Trump. He also praised Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for the energy and enthusiasm he inspired in young people who "will be critical in moving America" forward.
This website. Today, the gov is launching "Get My Payment" – a tracking tool to help Americans find out when they'll get their stimulus check. So if you're wondering if you're getting a check or direct deposit, this may help you figure that out.
...Oh and you'll see President Trump's name on your check.
Skimm More: That's the A to your "where's my money?" Q. We answered what's up with student loans, unemployment, the stock market, and more here.
Just wait for this memoir.
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Feb 26 | Thousands of migrants have reportedly died while preparing for the World Cup.
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