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President Trump redirects World Health Organization funds to Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse

The White House Budget Office instructed federal agencies to redirect the money normally intended for the World Health organization to groups that perform similar work such as the Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse.

The move indicates that President Donald Trump intends to make his temporary halt on funding to the WHO permanent, the New York Post reported Thursday.

The Post report noted that “Trump administration officials have ceased ‘voluntary’ contributions from agencies including USAID, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services — totaling about $300 million-$400 million a year.”

The president on Tuesday announced that he would suspend U.S. funding of the United Nations relief organization due to its role in parroting China’s lies and misinformation about COVID-19 in the early stages of the global pandemic. The WHO repeated without scrutiny the Chinese government’s dubious claims that the disease was not spread as a result of human-to-human transmission, and failed to call the communist government out when it had become apparent they were misleading the global community about the virus.

The U.S. was the largest donor to the organization, accounting for roughly 10% of the WHO’s yearly $4.8 billion budget.

Aside from its role in repeating misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, Trump administration officials have reportedly taken issue with the WHO’s sizable travel budget and penchant for supporting liberal policies such as climate change and abortion.

According to the Associated Press, the annual WHO travel budget is about $200 million, dwarfing many of its health programs. In 2016, the WHO spent $71 million on AIDS and hepatitis, $61 million on malaria and $59 million on tuberculosis.

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The Red Cross is facing a ‘severe blood shortage’ because of the coronavirus response

It may seem like most areas of American life are temporarily pausing right now because of the coronavirus — formally known as COVID-19 — but that hasn’t stopped people from needing blood donations. It has, however, stopped a lot of blood drives from taking place and led to a “severe blood shortage,” according to the American Red Cross.

“As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate,” the Red Cross said in a Tuesday news release. So far, the organization says that around 2,700 of its blood donation drives have been canceled around the United States because of “concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak.”

The organization says that those kinds of drives usually account for over 80 percent of the blood they collect and that the recent cancellations have caused them to fall short of an estimated 86,000 donations. And with the number of cancelations expected to continue, the shortage could end up hurting people like cancer patients, emergency victims, and those in need of surgery.

“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of Transfusion Medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, said in the release. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”

The shortage has prompted top U.S. health officials point out that, while some people may be concerned about the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, it is still safe to donate blood and those who can should to take the time to do so.

“To ensure an adequate blood supply we need people to come out and donate blood,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Director Peter Marks told NPR. “Blood donation centers are a very safe place to be. People take precautions to make sure those centers are spotless clean and that people who are sick don’t enter them.”

“It is safe to donate blood,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement last week. “Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply. Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate today to ensure that blood is available for those patients who need it.”

In addition to its normal sanitation protocols, the Red Cross says that it has taken extra precautions to protect the safety of people at donation centers and blood drives in response to the viral outbreak. These measures include checking the temperature of staff and donors before they enter the location, providing hand sanitizer throughout the process, practicing social distancing with the placement of beds and increasing the disinfection of equipment and surfaces.

The Red Cross says that people can schedule donation appointments on its website or donor app, by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or by using the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

“As a nation, this is a time where we must take care of one another including those most vulnerable among us in hospitals,” American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern said in Tuesday’s announcement. “One of the most important things people can do right now during this public health emergency is to give blood. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible.”