“This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick and America alone.”
Epidemiologists and public interest groups were among the critics condemning the White House’s announcement on Tuesday that the U.S. is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, five weeks after threatening to do so.
The move was announced to WHO on Monday and comes as more than 539,000 people around the world have died of the coronavirus, including more than 130,000 in the U.S., where the number of Covid-19 cases has been climbing for weeks.
Countries are officially required to give WHO one year’s notice before formally leaving the organization, which counts the U.S. as its largest funder. The U.S. contributed $426 million per year in recent years and currently owes WHO more than $200 million in dues for 2020. The U.S. State Department did not indicate on Tuesday whether the government plans to pay its debt to the organization as it leads the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What a dark, dark, sickening day for America and the world,” public health expert Eric Feigl-Ding tweeted in response to the news.
⚠️OFFICIAL: The Trump WH has formally withdrawn the US from the @WHO.
What a dark dark sickening day for America 🇺🇸 and the world 🌎. https://t.co/50Z7VxpvDO
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) July 7, 2020
As the world battles Covid-19—as well as other ongoing public health threats—Trump’s decision is likely to have far-reaching and potentially deadly implications, wrote Helen Branswell at Stat News:
The move plunges global health governance into the unknown, creating questions about the economic viability of the WHO, the future of the polio eradication program, the system for reporting dangerous infectious disease outbreaks, and myriad other programs that are as pertinent to the health of Americans as they are to people from countries around the world, such as efforts to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Trump has blamed WHO for not taking control of the pandemic after China first publicized a cluster of Covid-19 cases in Wuhan in late December 2019. As WHO communicated with world leaders in January about how to prepare for the pandemic, however, the Trump administration was dismissing the warnings of public health experts in the United States and downplaying the need to strengthen its medical supply chain.
Trump also severely hampered the United States’ ability to observe the early days of the pandemic in China when he cut staff by more than two-thirds at the CDC’s offices in Beijing before the pandemic.
Government watchdog Public Citizen called the president’s decision on Tuesday “a shameful moment,” and warned that the U.S. and the world will now be even less able to effectively confront the pandemic.
Trump just formally withdrew the United States from the World Health Organization. What a shameful moment.
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) July 7, 2020
U.S. diplomat Jimmy Kolker told Stat News that the U.S. will “inevitably” rejoin WHO in the future, but that its hasty exit in the middle of the global health crisis will make partnering with other countries difficult in the long-term.
“There will be no incentive to take U.S. needs into account,” Kolker told the outlet. “It will be much harder than some might assume to find alternate channels for us to engage in global health activities. Our investment will no longer leverage others’ and experts in other countries will have to diversify their partnerships away from the CDC, the NIH, or USAID, as these may not be sustainable. Once deals are struck and arrangements made without U.S. involvement, it will be an uphill struggle to retrofit them if the U.S. has an interest in getting involved.”
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were distressed at the news; Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) noted that withdrawing from WHO could “interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines” for Covid-19.
“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic and incoherent doesn’t do it justice,” tweeted Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). “This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick and America alone.”
What we know so far about COVID-19 and children
President Donald Trump has been censored on Facebook and Twitter after saying children are "almost immune" from COVID-19. What do the facts say?
We know for sure children are less likely to fall seriously ill from the coronavirus, and emerging evidence suggests they're less likely to be infected too.
What's less clear is how much they spread the virus once infected.
- Children rarely become seriously ill -
Under-18s have accounted for just two percent of hospitalized COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of all deaths in the United States, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Angst-ridden Republicans should have acted when Trump put his reelection above national security concerns: conservative columnist
Writing in the Washington Post this Thursday, columnist Jennifer Rubin says that Senate Republicans are in serious trouble, especially in light of the stimulus bill they rolled out this week.
According to Rubin, the Senate GOP is in dire straits because "they have allowed the anti-government, anti-science Trump sycophants to disclaim any interest in the bill, thereby handing the reins to Democrats."
Rubin writes that some Republicans saying they want to see essential workers being taken care of in the bill are speaking up too late. "If only they they had some power in February to remove the unfit and corrupt president from office, instead of leaving him there to purge witnesses from his administration, seek vengeance on foes, force out inspectors general and botch the response to the coronavirus," Rubin writes.
Anti-mask GOP lawmaker mocks Ohio governor for testing positive for coronavirus
Notoriously anti-mask Ohio state Rep. Nino Vitale gloated after Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Urbana Republican has questioned masks and opposed other public safety measures imposed by DeWine, also a Republican, and ridiculed the governor after he tested positive for the potentially deadly virus ahead of meeting President Donald Trump.