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Trump halts funding for the World Health Organization, backs down from fight with governors

President Donald Trump's name will appear on coronavirus relief checks, despite Congress passing the spending package.
Image: President Donald Trump leaves the Rose Garden after a press conference on coronavirus on April 14, 2020.
President Donald Trump leaves the Rose Garden after a press conference on coronavirus on Tuesday.Alex Brandon / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump announced he is cutting funding to the World Health Organization as the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States reaches more than 29,000.

Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.

Trump says he is cutting funding to the World Health Organization

President Trump announced Tuesday that he is halting funding for the World Health Organization pending a review of its response to the initial coronavirus outbreak after it criticized his restrictions on travel from China.

Trump accused the WHO of "severely mismanaging and covering up" the coronavirus crisis, specifically the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The announcement, which comes as the Trump administration's response to the pandemic faces increasing scrutiny, was met with severe criticism at home and abroad.

Congressional Democrats Tuesday night disputed Trump's authority to unilaterally stop funding.

A spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee, called Trump's announced move "a desperate attempt to deflect blame."

The medical community also questioned the wisdom of the move in the middle of the worst global health crisis in a century.

"Cutting funding to the WHO — rather than focusing on solutions — is a dangerous move at a precarious moment for the world," said Dr. Patrice Harris, the president of the American Medical Association.

Trump also backed down Tuesday from his claim that he had "total" authority to reopen states after governors in the Northeast and on the West coast banded together to create regional pacts to plan when and how to reopen their economies.

"I'm not going to put pressure on any governor to open," the president said Tuesday in an about-face from his remarks the day before.

Here are some other major developments:

Coronavirus has destroyed the U.S. job market. See which states have been hit the hardest.

The coronavirus outbreak made America’s job market go from 60 to zero in the blink of an eye.

Stay-at-home orders issued by states to stem the spread of the virus have frozen the economy. More than 16 million Americans have filed for initial unemployment benefits since mid-March, a burst that economists say is unprecedented.

“I compare it to a natural disaster, a terrorist attack and a financial shock all at once,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “We've never had this in history.”

See the per-state jobless numbers and how they’ve changed.

In one positive sign, major U.S. airlines, which have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, and the Treasury Department reached an agreement to secure a slice of the $25 billion Payroll Support program.

Latino coronavirus deaths at meat processing plant raise alarms about worker safety

The deaths of at least three Latino employees from coronavirus at a Greeley, Colorado, meat plant are raising alarms about the safety of workers and the vulnerability of the nation's food supply.

"These are essential frontline workers. They are just as important as doctors and nurses, but they are not being treated that way," said one civil rights leader.

Image: Beatriz Rangel, a daughter of longtime JBS USA meat packing plant employee Saul Sanchez in Greeley
Photos of longtime meat packing plant employee Saul Sanchez when he graduated high school at age 60. He died of coronavirus in Greeley, Colo., last week.Jim Urquhart / Reuters

An MIT team takes a hands-on approach to fighting coronavirus

The old proverb says, "necessity is the mother of invention."

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may be proving that saying right.

Seeing the need for better protection for health workers, theyhelped create a face shield for health care workers from cheap, accessible materials.

A factory is now making 100,000 a day.

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THINK about it

China is winning the coronavirus propaganda war. And Trump has himself to blame, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in an opinion piece.

Your coronavirus questions answered

Quote of the day

"Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds.... The world needs @WHO now more than ever."

Bill Gates tweeted in response to Trump's move to halt fund to the WHO

One fun thing

Leave it to Matthew McConaughey to come to the rescue with a practical and fun PSA.

In a video posted on Instagram and Twitter, McConaughey in the guise of bounty hunter Bobby Bandito shows how to make an improvised mask to combat coronavirus.

"It's high time we catch this killer, because we've got more livin' to do," he says in front of a "Wanted Dead or Alive: Coronavirus" poster.

He proceeds to demonstrate how to make a face mask with a bandanna and a coffee filter to ward off the enemy,"corona-v."

The Texan actor has been working with authorities in the city of Austin to release videos urging social distancing.

"Now, remember, stay at home. But if you got to go, strap it on like so," he urges viewers.

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill