President says US will withhold funding from WHO following its 'missed calls' on coronavirus

Joe Sommerlad, Chris Riotta, Danielle Zoellner

As New York City’s death toll from coronavirus hits 3,845, officials are considering using Hart Island in Long Island Sound off the Bronx as a temporary grave site at a time when morgues are overrun.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, has meanwhile broken with Donald Trump to warn that the world may never “go back to normal” after the outbreak because the threat will linger, issuing the caution as America approaches 400,000 cases and 12,300 deaths in total.

In other news, the president has ousted his White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on the same day Democratic challenger Joe Biden resumes his fight against Bernie Sanders to win the party’s nomination to challenge for the presidency in November, with the Wisconsin primary controversially given the go-ahead in spite of stay-at-home rules and social distancing concerns.

Taking Ms Grisham's places as the press secretary was Kayleigh McEnany, a campaign spokesperson for the president. But she faced criticism on Tuesday over previous comments in February stating Mr Trump would prevent the coronavirus from spreading across America.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2020: Joshua Roberts/Reuters/TPX

The president has also attacked the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its response to the coronavirus pandemic, claming the organisation made "missed calls". He is now threatening to withhold US funding from the WHO. His threat first came in a tweet on Tuesday before repeating it again during the White House's daily press briefing.

"They seem to be very China-centric. And we have to look into that so we'll look into it we pay for a majority of the money that they get," the president said. He accused the WHO of not supporting his January travel ban on China.

Mr Trump also buckled down on denouncing mail-in ballots during the briefing, claiming it was "cheating".

But the president also recently applied to vote out-of-state for Florida, which would entail him mailing in his own ballot. When asked about this, Mr Trump said he was allowed to do this while other forms of mail-in ballots were allegedly corrupt.

In order to help small businesses during the pandemic, the president added he would ask Congress to provide an additional $250bn in funding to help companies cope. "I will protect you if your governor fails," Mr Trump said.