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President Trump pledges additional $250B in small business relief, attacks WHO over coronavirus pandemic

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WASHINGTON (Nexstar/AP) — President Donald Trump and members of the White House coronavirus task force held a briefing Tuesday to discuss the latest efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus in the U.S.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the Trump administration will seek an additional $250 billion to support a program designed to bolster small businesses to keep them from laying off workers.

Mnuchin said in a tweet on Tuesday that he was seeking the additional funds at the direction of President Donald Trump in response to the outbreak.  He said he had spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

Trump said he would “put a hold” on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization, before backtracking and claiming, “I’m not saying I’m going to do it.”

Trump made the comments at a White House press briefing as deaths and infections across the country continue to rise.

Trump at first announced he would be cutting off U.S. funding to the organization. But when pressed on whether it was the right time, given the current crisis, he told reporters he was only looking at the prospect.

Still, he criticized the organization, saying they “they missed the call” on the pandemic and claiming that they seem to be “very China-centric.”

He claimed, “They should have known and they probably did know.”

The WHO has praised China for its transparency on the virus, even though there is there is reason to believe that more people died of COVID-19 than the country’s official tally.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has voiced skepticism of many international organizations.

Trump says the coronavirus is hitting African Americans harder, according to data on the pandemic.

Trump says his administration is trying to address what he termed a “tremendous challenge.” He says COVID-19 has been showing up in a disproportional way in African American communities.

Speaking at the White House daily briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the medical community has known for a long time that diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and asthma hit minority populations, especially African Americans.

He says the coronavirus hits these people suffering from these underlying conditions hard and often require intubation, intensive care and sometimes death.

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says it’s “very sad,” but there is not much that can be done right now except to try to give these people the best care possible.

The full briefing is available below.

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