In our news wrap Friday, President Trump announced the U.S. is terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization, to which it gives about $450 million. Trump accuses the group of covering up China’s role in the novel coronavirus pandemic. Also, Russia reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 deaths with 232, and India recorded nearly 7,500 new infections in the past 24 hours.
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In the day's other news: President Trump announced that the U.S. is terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization.
Mr. Trump has accused the group of covering up China's role in the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. is the largest contributor to the WHO, giving about $450 million.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 102,000 today. And the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia lifted their shelter-in-place orders, as officials said the region was ready to begin reopening.
Mayor Muriel Bowser:
It's not a day of celebration. It's a day of being able to do some things slowly and on a limited basis that we haven't been able to do for 10 weeks. But it's not a party.
And we shouldn't treat it like a party, or else we will be back to square one.
As of today, there have been nearly six million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world.
Russia reported its highest daily rise in COVID-19 deaths, 232. Meanwhile, India recorded nearly 7,500 new infections in the last 24 hours. It's now surpassed China in the number of confirmed reported cases and deaths.
Even so, restrictions there are being lifted, and some businesses can now reopen.
Arjun Das (through translator):
We are wearing protective gears, including masks, hand gloves and eyewear. We are taking all precautions. We are using sanitizer and giving only one towel to each customer, and washing them after every use.
In France, officials announced the iconic Louvre art museum in Paris will reopen on July 6. Visitors will be required to wear masks and to maintain social distancing.
The Trump administration says that it is ending its special treatment for Hong Kong. That's in response to China's new security legislation in the territory, and Beijing's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Pro-democracy advocates said that China's crackdown tightens the country's grip on the semiautonomous city.
The president denounced the new legislation this afternoon in the White House Rose Garden.
President Donald Trump:
China has replaced its promised formula of one country, two systems, with a one country, one system.
My announcement today will affect the full range of agreements we have with Hong Kong, from our extradition treaty, to our export controls, on dual-use technologies and more, with few exceptions.
So, for more on the president's announcement, I'm joined by our Nick Schifrin.
So, Nick, tell us the significance of what the White House is announcing.
Judy, I talked to experts on China on both sides of the aisle, and they acknowledge that the president's rhetoric was aggressive, but not as aggressive as it could have been, and not with as many specifics as there could have been to respond to Beijing's fundamentally altering Hong Kong's freedoms.
So, let's go through what the president announced. The first of four announcements was revoking Hong Kong's special status, as he says.
What does that mean? That means visa-free travel. It means tariff-free trade. It means controls on exporting technology to Hong Kong.
Number two, sanctioned senior Communist Party officials. Number three, blocking Chinese post-graduate students and researchers who have any connection to the Chinese military from entering the U.S., and possibly evicting post-grads who are already here with that same connection.
And, number four, warning travelers to Hong Kong that they can basically be surveilled electronically by Beijing. And, as you said, in addition, the president withdraw from the World Health Organization and redirected the hundreds of millions dollars that the U.S. sends to the WHO to other organizations and countries.
He said the WHO is controlled by Beijing and didn't do enough to sound the alarm about the coronavirus.
But critics say this is terrible timing, during this pandemic, to do this.
Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and chair of the Senate Health Committee, saying tonight: "I disagree."
And also the American Medical Association saying, this announcement — quote — "makes finding a way out of this public health crisis dramatically more challenging."
And, Nick, with regard to China and what's been happening there, how far does all this go toward actually changing the status of Hong Kong?
That is the key question tonight, Judy.
As I said, according to the China experts I'm talking to, the rhetoric was aggressive, but the question is, what are the actions? If the administration follows through, restricts travel, imposes tariff, that would be a fundamental shift in the status of Hong Kong.
It would also accelerate a trend that's already begun to happen. Basically, Hong Kong becomes another Chinese city, and American businesses would have to make a decision of whether to stay and live under the Communist Party rules or leave the city.
But the president didn't provide a time frame for that, nor did he provide a lot of specifics, only that he would start that process. And he also didn't do other options that some people had wanted him to do. He could have pulled out of the trade deal. He could have evicted more Chinese students who are in the U.S., and he could have sanctioned Chinese financial institutions.
The experts I talk to say, it's a tough balancing act between saving China — saving Hong Kong's special status, but also punishing Beijing. And they say, this isn't enough to get Beijing to, for example, pull out of the trade deal, but it's also not going to stop Beijing from continuing to erode Hong Kong's freedoms, Judy.
Nick Schifrin following this very complex story.
Nick, we thank you.
And, back in this country, Missouri's only abortion clinic will be allowed to remain open. A state arbiter ruled that the Health Department was wrong to deny a license renewal to the Planned Parenthood facility in Saint Louis. Had it closed, Missouri would have become the first state in the nation without an abortion clinic since 1974.
In economic news, U.S. consumer spending fell a record 13.6 percent in April, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to close and lay off millions of workers.
And stocks were mixed on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 17 points to close at 25383. The Nasdaq rose 121 points, and the S&P 500 added 14.