President Trump lashed out on Tuesday at the World Health Organization, creating a new enemy to attack and threatening to withhold funding from the world’s premier health institution even as a deadly virus ravages nations around the globe.
“We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the W.H.O.; we’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see,” Mr. Trump said, accusing the organization of having not been aggressive enough in confronting the dangers from the virus. “They called it wrong. They call it wrong. They really they missed the call.”
In effect, Mr. Trump was attempting to blame the W.H.O. for the very missteps and failures that have been leveled at him and his administration. Public health experts have said Mr. Trump’s public denials of concern about the virus slowed the American response, which included slow testing and a failure to stockpile protective gear.
In fact, the W.H.O. was sounding the alarm in the earliest days of the crisis, declaring a “public health emergency of international concern” a day before the United States secretary of health and human services announced its own public health emergency and weeks before Mr. Trump declared a national emergency because of the virus.
Mr. Trump appeared to be particularly angry at the W.H.O. for issuing a statement saying it did not support his decision on Jan. 31 to restrict some travel from China because of the virus. At the time, the group issued a statement saying that “restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions.”
“Don’t close your borders to China, don’t do this,” Mr. Trump said, paraphrasing the group and accusing the organization of “not seeing” the outbreak when it started in Wuhan, China. “They didn’t see it, how do you not see it? They didn’t see it. They didn’t report it. If they did see it, they must have seen it, but they didn’t report.”
In fact, the W.H.O. repeatedly issued statements about the emergence of the virus in China and its movement around the world.
The budget for the W.H.O. is about $5 billion, which comes from member countries around the world. In 2017, the last year for which figures were available, the United States was required to spend $111 million based on the organization’s rules, but sent an additional $401 million in voluntary contributions.
It was unclear whether Mr. Trump planned to eliminate all of the money that the United States sends to the organization, or if he would follow through, but he said that “we’re going to look at it.” He added that his government will investigate the W.H.O. and said that “we will look at ending funding.”
Trump effectively ousts the top watchdog for the $2 trillion in virus relief.
President Trump moved on Tuesday to oust the leader of a new panel of watchdogs charged with overseeing how his administration spends trillions of taxpayer dollars in coronavirus pandemic relief. It was the latest step in an unfolding White House power play over semi-independent inspectors general across the government.
The official, Glenn A. Fine, has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before Mr. Trump took office. Last week, an umbrella group of inspectors general across the executive branch named him the chairman of a new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee with control of an $80 million budget to police how the government carries out the $2 trillion relief bill.
But Mr. Trump has now abruptly named a different federal official — Sean O’Donnell, the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general — to be the acting inspector general for the Defense Department. The move effectively removed Mr. Fine — a former Justice Department inspector general with a reputation for aggression and independence — from his role overseeing pandemic spending.
Democrats immediately condemned Mr. Fine’s sudden sidelining from the committee as “corrupt,” in the words of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader.
Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, blasted Mr. Trump’s actions as “a direct insult to the American taxpayers — of all political stripes — who want to make sure that their tax dollars are not squandered on wasteful boondoggles, incompetence or political favors.”
And Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his panel had been given no justification or rationale for Mr. Fine’s replacement.
Five weeks into the coronavirus outbreak, officials in New York and New Jersey, the two states hit hardest by the pandemic, hoped that the number of virus-related deaths had reached a peak and would flatten or drop for a third straight day.
It did not happen.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Tuesday that 731 people had died of the virus since Monday, the state’s highest one-day total yet by more than 100.
“Behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family, is a mother, is a father, is a sister, is a brother,” Mr. Cuomo said at his daily briefing in Albany. “So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers.”
New Jersey’s toll also hit a new one-day high on Tuesday, with 232 people dying of the virus since the previous day, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said. On Sunday and Monday, deaths in the state were in the double digits.
More people have died in New York and New Jersey, by far, than in any other state. The two states together account for more than half of the virus-related deaths in the United States. New York’s toll was 5,489 as of Tuesday; New Jersey’s was 1,232.
“It’s almost unfathomable, folks, when you think about it,” Mr. Murphy said.
Mr. Cuomo emphasized that the death rate was a lagging indicator, and pointed to a falling rate of hospitalizations. He also said that the state was still projecting that the spread of the virus was plateauing.
The number of hospitalizations depends not only on the number of new arrivals but also on hospital admission standards. As hospitals have teetered on the brink of being overwhelmed, they have sent home people whom they would have admitted just a few weeks earlier, several New York doctors said in interviews.
So even if the number of hospitalizations appears to have plateaued, that could be because the number of sick people turning up has lessened, or it may have to do with changing hospital admissions standards — or both.
Mr. Cuomo said that social distancing practices were working and that they had to continue.
The governor also said that planning was underway to restart the regional economy and that he had spoken to the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut about coordinating those efforts.
Britain is gripped by concern for the health of its prime minister, and questions of succession.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain remained in the intensive care unit of a London hospital on Tuesday battling symptoms, raising questions not just about the state of his health but about who would lead the country, gripped by a major outbreak, in his stead if that became necessary. In England alone, 758 patients were reported to have died in hospital in 24 hours, public health officials reported on Tuesday.
Mr. Johnson was transferred to the intensive care unit on Monday after his illness worsened. Aides said he had been moved in case he needed a ventilator to help his recovery. On Tuesday evening, the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said that Mr. Johnson was “receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance,” like a ventilator.
As Britain has no written Constitution and no standard line of succession in the case of illness or death of the head of the government, it was for Mr. Johnson to decide who should stand in for him if he became ill. But the man he nominated, Mr. Raab, has been relatively untested, serving as the leader of the Foreign Office for less than a year.
While Mr. Johnson remains as the head of the government from his hospital bed, the seriousness of his illness means that could change quickly. At a time of extraordinary challenge, Mr. Raab is already serving as chairman of a key committee on the pandemic as the government battles to control the spread of the virus and stabilize an economy hit hard by the lockdown measures it has imposed.
Previous British prime ministers, including Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, have had health issues while in power, but had brief periods of absence for planned procedures.
Mr. Johnson could be hospitalized for some time, and at a moment when the government must make major decisions about its virus response. Though some British prime ministers have nominated deputies, Mr. Johnson chose not to do so when he took the role last year.
The last time Britain experienced such a power vacuum was in 1953, when Winston Churchill suffered a stroke and the truth of his condition was kept from the British public.
Before going into intensive care, Mr. Johnson asked Mr. Raab to stand in for him “where necessary.”
Another senior minister, Michael Gove — who has had a lead role in coordinating the government’s response, including giving interviews on Mr. Johnson’s state of health — announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he was self-isolating. He felt well, he said, but a member of his family showed symptoms of the virus.
African-Americans are suffering virus infections at disturbing rates in some of the largest cities and states in the United States, emerging statistics show.
In Louisiana, about 70 percent of the people who have died are African-American, though only a third of the state’s population is black. In the county around Milwaukee, where 27 percent of residents are black, nearly twice as many African-American residents tested positive for the virus as white people. And in Chicago, where African-American residents make up a little less than a third of the population, more than half of those found to have the virus are black, and African-Americans make up 72 percent of those who have died of the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday at a White House briefing that the figures were concerning. He said diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and asthma disproportionately affect African-Americans, and that patients with these diseases and coronavirus often have bad outcomes.
“It’s very sad,” Dr. Fauci said. “There’s nothing we can do about it right now except try and get them the best possible care to avoid those complications.”
Data on the race of those sickened by the virus has only been made public in a handful of places and is too limited to make sweeping conclusions. But racial disparities in cases and outcomes, researchers said, reflect what happens when a viral pandemic is layered on top of entrenched inequalities.
The data, researchers said, is partly explained by factors that could make black Americans more vulnerable in any outbreak: They are less likely to be insured, more likely to already have health conditions and more likely to be denied testing and treatment. There is also the highly infectious nature of the virus in a society where black Americans disproportionately hold jobs that do not allow them to stay at home, the researchers said.
“If you walk outside and see who is actually still working,” said Elaine Nsoesie, of Boston University’s School of Public Health, “the data don’t seem surprising.”
Long lines, health jitters, flaring tempers and a dose of chaos and confusion marked Wisconsin’s presidential primary and local elections on Tuesday, as voters were forced to choose between staying safe during a pandemic and exercising their civic duty.
State Republican leaders, backed up by a conservative majority on the state Supreme Court, rebuffed the Democratic governor’s attempt to postpone in-person voting at a moment when the outbreak has prompted officials to recommend stay-at-home orders in most of the nation.
Voters in Milwaukee, the state’s Democratic base and most populous city, experienced significant disruptions. Election workers there expected more than 50,000 voters Tuesday, but the number of polling locations was drastically reduced, from more than 180 to just five. Some voters waited in line for more than two hours, spread out over blocks as they tried to practice social distancing.
In other parts of the state, especially in smaller communities that tend to be less Democratic, the in-person voting process was running relatively smoothly, with wait times more closely resembling a normal election.
It remained to be seen how the disruptions could affect the Democratic presidential primary contest between former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders.
The political and legal skirmishing surrounding the Wisconsin balloting amounted to only the first round of an expected national fight over voting rights during the crisis.
Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin, a Democrat, had issued an executive order postponing in-person voting and extending to June the deadline for absentee ballots. But Republican leaders succeeded in getting the state’s top court to stay the decree.
And in a decision late Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative-leaning majority dealt its own blow to Wisconsin Democrats. In a 5-4 vote, the majority ruled against extending the deadline for absentee voting, saying such a change “fundamentally alters the nature of the election.” The court’s four liberal members dissented, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing that “the court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.”
On Tuesday Mr. Biden criticized Mr. Trump’s stewardship of the crisis, a day after the two men spoke by phone over how to combat the outbreak.
“His failings and his delays continue,” Mr. Biden said by video to a virtual convention hosted by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. “We continue to see it. And it’s causing real pain for so many Americans.”
Mr. Biden, who has said that the presidential election must take place in November as required, raised the prospect of voting by mail.
“We cannot delay or postpone a constitutionally required November election,” Mr. Biden said during an earlier appearance on NBC. “We should be thinking now ahead — have all the experts, both political parties and academia laying out what it would take to have voting by mail. I’d much prefer to have, you know, in-person voting but it depends. It depends on the state of play.”
Jack Dorsey promises $1 billion to virus relief efforts.
Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter and Square, said on Tuesday that he planned to donate $1 billion, or just under a third of his total wealth, to relief programs related to the coronavirus, in one of the more significant efforts by a tech billionaire to fight the pandemic.
Mr. Dorsey said he would put 28 percent of his wealth, in the form of shares in his mobile payments company Square, into a limited liability company that he had created, called Start Small. Start Small would make grants to beneficiaries, he said, with the expenditures to be recorded in a publicly accessible Google document.
“Why now? The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime,” Mr. Dorsey said in a series of tweets announcing his plans. “I hope this inspires others to do something similar.”
Mr. Dorsey, 43, joins a growing list of celebrities, world leaders and technologists who are earmarking some portion of their wealth to fighting the spread of the coronavirus and its effects.
Oprah Winfrey has donated more than $10 million to Covid-19 relief efforts, while other Hollywood personalities and athletes have also made contributions. Last week, the Amazon chief executive, Jeff Bezos, said he would donate $100 million to American food banks through a nonprofit, Feeding America. And Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has also organized relief campaigns through Facebook and his own philanthropic organization.
No Trading Floor? No Problem. A Financial Firm Quarantines at the Four Seasons.
When Citadel Securities, a sibling to the hedge fund company Citadel, decided to isolate a team of stock traders to keep business humming during the coronavirus pandemic, the firm’s billionaire founder, Kenneth Griffin, secured sumptuous Florida quarters: the Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach.
The firm booked the hotel for New York and Chicago traders just before Palm Beach County put a hold on March 26 on new hotel reservations, and it began operations there on March 30. A few days later, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order across Florida.
The resort is guarded by Palm Beach Police Department patrols hired by Citadel Securities. No one other than employees for the firm or the hotel is allowed inside. Mr. Griffin, a prominent political donor and top contributor to Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, owns property nearby. He is not staying at the hotel.
Local and state orders require social distancing and the closure of nonessential businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Yet officials in the town of Palm Beach say the unusual arrangement at the Four Seasons is not in violation of public health rules because Citadel Securities is the hotel’s only tenant.
The town is treating the property as a private residence where people inside can work — or swim in the pool — as they would in any home, said Michael Ogrodnick, a Palm Beach spokesman.
“As far as we’re concerned, they’re in their own bubble,” Mr. Ogrodnick said.
Thomas B. Modly, the acting Navy secretary, resigned Tuesday following his bungled response to an outbreak of the virus aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt engulfed the Navy in a public relations disaster, Defense Department officials said.
Mr. Modly’s departure marks the latest in a string of events that began last week, after The San Francisco Chronicle published a letter in which the Roosevelt’s commander, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, pleaded with the Navy to help contain the virus that had spread rapidly through his ship.
The Navy has announced more than 170 coronavirus cases aboard the Roosevelt since the outbreak started in late March, after the ship had docked in Da Nang, Vietnam.
The firing sent shock waves through the crew, which was only exacerbated Monday when Mr. Modly flew to Guam, where the Roosevelt is now docked, and said Captain Crozier was “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this.”
He also rebuked the crew for having cheered their captain as he left the ship.
President Trump said Tuesday that he had no direct involvement in Mr. Modly’s resignation, but he came to his defense, saying that he would not have asked him to resign, suggesting that he was disappointed in that decision.
“I would not have asked him. I don’t know him. I didn’t speak to him, but he did that,” Mr. Trump said. “I think just to end that problem. And I think in one, in really many ways, that was a very unselfish thing for him to do.”
Mr. Trump also criticized Captain Crozier. “The whole thing was very unfortunate,” Mr. Trump said. “The captain shouldn’t have written the letter. He didn’t have to be Ernest Hemingway.”
China ends a lockdown on Wuhan as the country reports its first day since January with no deaths.
China has ended its lockdown of Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus first emerged and a potent symbol in a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of people. But the damaged city has a long way to go before it returns to normal.
The move came hours after China announced no new deaths from the virus for the first time since January, though doubts remain about the veracity of China’s statistics.
The Chinese authorities had sealed off Wuhan, an industrial hub of 11 million people, in late January, in a frantic attempt to limit the outbreak’s spread. At the time, many outsiders saw it as an extreme step, one that could be tried only in an authoritarian system like China’s. But as the epidemic has worsened, governments around the world have enacted a variety of stringent restrictions on their citizens’ movements.
Wuhan’s recovery could offer a window into how other places recover. Sickness and death have touched hundreds of thousands of lives. Businesses, even those that have reopened, face a wrenching road ahead, with sluggishness likely to persist. Neighborhood authorities continue to regulate people’s comings and goings, with no return to normalcy in sight.
Controls on outbound travel were officially lifted just after midnight on Wednesday in China. People can now leave after presenting to the authorities a government-sanctioned phone app that indicates, based on their home address, recent travels and medical history, whether they are a contagion risk. China’s national rail operator estimated that more than 55,000 people would leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday, according to a state-run broadcaster.
China has had 83,654 infections since the start of the outbreak, according to official figures collated by The New York Times. At least 3,331 people nationwide have died, with most other patients recovered.
But many believe the true death toll is far higher. American intelligence officers say that because midlevel officials in Wuhan and elsewhere have lied about infection rates, testing and death counts, even Beijing does not know the full extent of China’s outbreak. Those doubts are rife in Wuhan, where officials have suppressed online discussion of fatalities and pushed for quick, quiet burials of victims.
The Chinese Communist Party said on Tuesday that it was investigating an outspoken property tycoon who accused China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, of having mishandled the outbreak.
Party officials said the man, Ren Zhiqiang, was suspected of “serious violations of discipline and law,” a euphemism the authorities often use for corruption and other abuses of power.
Mr. Ren, a longtime party member, disappeared last month after having written an explosive essay describing Mr. Xi as a power-hungry “clown.” The essay, which circulated on Chinese social media sites, said that the party’s strict limits on freedom of speech and its silencing of the news media had exacerbated the epidemic.
A brief statement about the investigation of Mr. Ren, issued by party disciplinary officials in Beijing, did not provide Mr. Ren’s whereabouts, give details about the status of his case or make mention of the essay.
A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death.
The memo by Peter Navarro — written on January 29 — suggested that millions of Americans could get ill or die if a pandemic occurred. At the time, President Trump was playing down the threat from the virus publicly, though he did announce the China restrictions on January 31.
Mr. Trump on Tuesday denied that he had seen the memo by Mr. Navarro, now Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, saying that “I didn’t look for them either,” but said that the memo’s warning that the virus might spark a pandemic came just before Mr. Trump took action to restrict travel from China.
“That was about the same time as I felt that we should do it. That was about the same time that I closed it down,” he said. “He wrote a memo. And he was right. And I haven’t seen the memo. I’ll see it later on after this, but it didn’t matter whether I saw it or not because I acted on my own,” Mr. Trump said.
The warning, in a memo by Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States.
“The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,” Mr. Navarro’s memo said. “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”
Mr. Navarro said in the memo that the administration faced a choice about how aggressive to be in containing an outbreak, saying the human and economic costs would be relatively low if it turned out to be a problem along the lines of a seasonal flu.
But he went on to emphasize that the “risk of a worst-case pandemic scenario should not be overlooked” given the information coming from China.
In one worst-case scenario cited in the memo, more than a half-million Americans could die.
Five days after the start of a $349 billion emergency effort to get money into the hands of small businesses, the agency at the heart of the program is emerging as its biggest bottleneck.
The Small Business Administration, lightly staffed and working with aging technology, has been caught unprepared for the onrush of demand from desperate small-business owners who urgently need these loans as the coronavirus stalls the economy. In a boom year, the agency backs $30 billion of small-business loans — about the same amount that banks are now seeking on behalf of their customers in a day.
Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said on Tuesday that 178,000 loans totaling $50 billion had been approved for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program that was unveiled Friday by the S.B.A. and the Treasury Department. But bankers, small-business owners and others participating in the program say very little of that money has actually reached companies seeking the cash. The delays are causing confusion and panic among borrowers, especially those who see Trump administration officials playing up the program’s success. They worry they are being left behind.
“The expectation that this $2 trillion package would go through Congress and that the money would be flowing three days later, that was never a realistic expectation,” said Patrick Ryan, the chief executive of First Bank, a lender based in New Jersey. “But I get why people are frustrated.”
On Tuesday, the Treasury Department asked Congress for another $250 billion for the program.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening around the world.
Turkey ordered everyone to wear masks when shopping or visiting crowded public places, and said it would deliver free masks to every family. Coronavirus infections have risen sharply in Turkey, a country of 80 million. The order is the latest in a gradual tightening of antivirus measures by the government, which has insisted that the virus is under control and has resisted a complete lockdown.
Weeks into their nationwide lockdowns, countries across Europe have begun considering a return to some semblance of normalcy as they weigh plans to lift restrictions on movement. Sebastian Kurz, the chancellor of Austria, introduced a timetable for the country to re-emerge from a lockdown and see some stores reopen after Easter. Denmark will soon allow its youngest children to return to day care and school. “It’s like walking a tightrope: If we stand still, we may fall,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. “If we go too fast it may soon go wrong.”
India appeared to soften its position on the export of hydroxychloroquine, a drug hailed as a possible treatment for the coronavirus. President Trump threatened Monday night to retaliate against India if it didn’t lift tough export restrictions imposed last month. India is the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, known as HC
Nearly 60 percent of people on an Aurora Expeditions cruise ship off the coast of Uruguay tested positive for the coronavirus, the company said in a statement posted to its website on Tuesday. The Australian ship, the Greg Mortimer, has 217 people aboard — many from Australia, the United States and Europe — and has been at sea since March 15, when it departed for Antarctica and South Georgia.
Reporting was contributed by Michael Cooper, Mike Isaac, Alan Blinder, Karen Zraick, Charlie Savage, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Alan Rappeport, Astead W. Herndon, Raymond Zhong, Javier C. Hernández, Carlotta Gall, Aurelien Breeden, Martin Selsoe Sorensen, Christopher F. Schuetze, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Iliana Magra, Maggie Haberman, Mike Baker, Declan Walsh, Andrew Higgins, Carlotta Gall, Patrick Kingsley, Stephen Castle, Mark Landler, Adam Liptak, Rick Rojas, Tariro Mzezewa, Abdi Latif Dahir, Sheila Kaplan, Katie Thomas, Vanessa Swales, Katie Glueck, Motoko Rich, Mike Ives, Richard C. Paddock, Hannah Beech, Jason Gutierrez, Muktita Suhartono, Elaine Yu and Zach Montague.