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As U.S. death toll climbs, Trump says working groups are planning economic resurgence

The U.S. death toll from novel coronavirus is approaching 30,000. Though President Trump is eager to lift the restrictions prompted by the pandemic and “reopen” the economy, other leaders continue to express concern that doing so would undermine efforts to contain the virus. Trump is also battling with the World Health Organization over their initial response to the outbreak. John Yang reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Debate is building at the White House and in statehouses tonight over when to cast off the curbs imposed by COVID-19.

    It comes as the pandemic's U.S. death toll is at 28,000 and still rising, and as the economic damage deepens.

    John Yang reports on the day's developments.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The plans to reopen the country are close to being finalized.

  • John Yang:

    Despite President Trump's eagerness to lift restrictions, even as COVID-19 continues to claim lives, local officials are saying, not so fast.

    At the American epicenter, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said today, the response needs to be purposeful.

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio:

    If you want to restart the economy, get it right. Actually make sure that we have contained this thing.

  • John Yang:

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state's health care system has not been overwhelmed, as initially feared. but he said more testing is needed before restrictions are relaxed, and that the federal government needs to be involved.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    The states cannot develop national testing. There is no simple answer to it. It's basically controlled by private sector companies.

  • John Yang:

    Cuomo also said he was taking the aggressive step of requiring all people to wear masks in public when they could not keep at least six feet away from each other.

    Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer today called for a $30 billion nationwide testing program. Mr. Trump has already formed a working group to rebuild the nation's economy. The Great American Economic Revival Industry Group includes nearly 200 people spanning 16 industries, like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Apple CEO Tim Cook, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka.

    The president also announced Tuesday that the United States will suspend funding the World Health Organization, saying it pushed Chinese misinformation.

    Today, the WHO's top official rejected that claim and called for cooperation.

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:

    This is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat.

  • John Yang:

    The dispute comes amid fresh reports that the Chinese government withheld information in January, as coronavirus spread in Wuhan.

    Today, a government spokesman pushed back:

  • Zhao Lijian (through translator):

    China has always timely notified the WHO and relevant countries of the epidemic information with an open, transparent and responsible attitude.

  • John Yang:

    Meanwhile, cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the United States, now representing a third of the more than two million cases worldwide.

    Outside the Michigan state capital in Lansing today, a conservative group rallied against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer's moves to close places like golf courses and landscaping companies, unless they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

    Nationwide, the widespread economic damage is becoming clearer. Retail sales dropped 8.7 percent in March, the steepest decline in nearly three decades of record-keeping. While some Americans have begun seeing their $1,200 in stimulus money in their bank accounts, the Treasury Department now says 70 million paper checks will go out with President Trump's name on them, but officials say it will not delay the mailing.

    Elsewhere, the start of a new normal.

  • Henrik Wilhelmsen:

    We have set the tables two meters apart. We have soap, disinfectant all over the place.

  • John Yang:

    In Denmark, schools have reopened for children 12 years old and younger if the schools meet government requirements, like keeping a 6.5-foot distance between children. And parents are allowed to keep their kids at home.

    Denmark was the first European country to shut down in early March. And donning face masks and gloves, South Korean poll workers began counting ballots in this year's parliamentary elections. Officials said turnout was higher than expected.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And underscoring how far the U.S. may be from returning to normal, the mayor of Los Angeles said late today that the city is not likely to allow sporting events, concerts and other large events until next year.

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