President Donald Trump shared Tuesday that the scariest day of his life was learning the U.S. was short of ventilators during a White House press conference on the Wuhan virus pandemic.
“The scariest day of my life was about a month ago, when after a long day of meetings my team told me that we were going to be needing 130,000 ventilators — that we were short hundreds of thousands of ventilators,” Trump said.
He blamed former President Barack Obama’s administration for the poor preparation.
“This is the system we inherited,” the president said.
“I had governors requesting unreasonable sums that the federal government just didn’t have and, you look at the states… The states were not prepared,” Trump continued. “I knew that every person who needed a ventilator, and didn’t get one, would die.”
Trump said that seeing other country’s choosing who would live and die in hospitals because of ventilator shortages was horrible — and he didn’t want that fate for Americans.
“I instructed my team to move heaven and Earth to make sure that this didn’t happen,” he said.
During the briefing, Trump announced the United States would suspend financial aid to the World Health Organization (WHO) for their role in helping China cover-up the coronavirus pandemic until it was too late.
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He said WHO embraced “political correctness” over “lifesaving measures.”
“The WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said. He announced that the U.S. would be reviewing the WHO’s actions to stop the virus before making any decision on resuming aid.
The United States contributed nearly $900 million to the WHO’s budget for 2018-19, according to information on the agency’s website. That represents one-fifth of its total $4.4 billion budget for those years. The U.S. gave nearly three-fourths of the funds in “specified voluntary contributions” and the rest in “assessed” funding as part of Washington’s commitment to U.N. institutions.
More than 125,000 deaths worldwide, including more than 25,000 in the U.S., have been blamed on the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Last week, Trump blasted the WHO for being “China-centric” and alleging that it had “criticized” his ban on travel from China as the COVID-19 outbreak was spreading from the city of Wuhan.
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Asked Tuesday about the appropriateness of seeking to cut the WHO’s funding in the middle of a worldwide viral outbreak, Trump said the review would last 60 to 90 days.
“This is an evaluation period, but in the meantime, we’re putting a hold on all funds going to World Health,” Trump said. He said the U.S. will continue to engage with the WHO in pursuit of “meaningful reforms.”
Trump has also complained that other countries give substantially less than the U.S., singling out China.
The Associated Press contributed to this article