As the U.S. surpasses 12,000 coronavirus deaths, our team in Washington, D.C. is examining the issues that likely won’t be featured tonight during primetime cable news — including an exclusive interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci. You can watch their original stories in the video above.
TONIGHT’S TOP STORY:
Even though he says the worst is yet to come, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, has seen signs of progress in the country’s fight against the coronavirus.
“The next week we’re going to see a spike in deaths throughout the country, particularly in the hot spot areas like New York, but simultaneously with that,we’re starting to see some cautiously optimistic type signs,” Fauci said.
Fauci said if Americans continue to practice social distancing, it will limit the number of new cases and ultimately, decrease the number of deaths.
“No crowds more than 10 people, keep 6 feet away, avoid crowded places, telework when you can – those are the kind of things that if we keep doing we’re going to see an even greater impact,” he said.
He said the nation must stay the course to stop the virus from spreading.
TOP CORONAVIRUS HEADLINES:
President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to freeze U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, saying the international group had “missed the call” on the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump also played down the release of January memos from a senior adviser that represented an early warning of a possible coronavirus pandemic, saying he had not seen them at the time. But he turned his anger on the WHO, first declaring that he would cut off U.S. funding for the organization, then backtracking and saying he would “strongly consider” such a move.
Trump said the international group had “called it wrong” on the virus and that the organization was “very China-centric” in its approach, suggesting that the WHO had gone along with Beijing’s efforts months ago to minimize the severity of the outbreak. The WHO has praised China for its transparency on the virus, even though there has been reason to believe that more people died of COVID-19 than the country’s official tally.
“They should have known and they probably did know,” Trump said of WHO officials.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has voiced skepticism toward many international organizations and has repeatedly heaped scorn on the WHO. In its most recent budget proposal, in February, the Trump administration called for slashing the U.S. contribution to the WHO from an estimated $122.6 million to $57.9 million.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
— Congress is racing to craft the next coronavirus rescue package, but President Donald Trump’s sudden request Tuesday to pump $250 billion more into a just-launched payroll program for small businesses has set up a new showdown over aid. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says more money is needed for the $350 billion program that took off last Friday but was quickly overrun. Mnuchin requested the funds in private calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Democrats largely support the additional funding. But McConnell wants to swiftly jam it through Congress this week, making the outcome uncertain.
— New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus has eclipsed the number of those killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Health officials say more than 3,200 people have been killed in the city thus far. That’s about 450 more than were killed in the city in 2001 when hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in intensive care with the virus. And Japan declared a monthlong state of emergency for Tokyo and six other regions. In China, authorities lifted 11-week-old restrictions in the city of Wuhan, site of a lockdown that served as a model for other countries battling the coronavirus.
— Companies across every economic sector are suffering and most are withdrawing all financial projections with so much about the pandemic still unknown. But they are also recognizing that customers are experiencing the same trauma. There have been tens of thousands of layoffs and furloughs. JPMorgan Chase, the New York bank, is doing away with minimum payment requirements on credit cards and it’s waiving late fees. Allstate is sending shelter-in-place paybacks to customers, with most getting checks for 15% of their monthly premium in April and May. On Tuesday, the layoffs kept coming in restaurant, travel, retail and manufacturing industries.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)