• Tedros said global leaders have wasted too much time in fighting COVID-19
  • U.S. President Trump and Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro still are downplaying the contagion, choosing to focus on economic damage
  • Jerome Powell says the U.S. may already be in recession

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told global leaders they have to stop wasting time as U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro downplayed the severity of COVID-19, which has killed more than 22,000 worldwide since December.

The U.S. death toll passed 1,000 Thursday as testing revealed more than 69,000 infections.

“We squandered the first window of opportunity,” Tedros said Wednesday. “The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago.”

Tedros said there are 150 countries are still seeing low numbers and must act to keep coronavirus cases from exploding.

The admonition came as Trump was pushing to restart the U.S. economy by Easter Sunday even though infections were unlikely to peak by then. New York City, which reported 20,000 of the state’s 30,000 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, has been particularly hard hit though Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday the rate of hospitalizations is slowing, a vital development to keep medical facilities from being overwhelmed.

In Brazil, which has at least 2,567 confirmed cases of the virus, Bolsonaro called fears “exaggerated” and restrictions imposed by governors and mayors that have brought the nation to a standstill “criminal.”

Trump’s focus has been on the economy. During a Fox News town hall this week, he said the medical community might be overreacting to the spread of the virus at that same time acknowledging the death toll could be significant. He said continuing to follow the guidelines issued last week that has closed restaurant dining rooms and bars and virtually eliminated all public gatherings could destroy the country.

But Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated Thursday that fear might itself be an overreaction.

“We may well be in a recession, but I would point to the difference between this and a normal recession,” he told NBC “Today” Thursday. “There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with our economy. Quite the contrary the economy performed very well right through February. … So, we start in a very strong position.”

Powell said the first order of business should be getting the virus under control, and medical experts should “set the timetable.”