President Donald Trump has officially withdrawn the United States from the World Health Organization.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., posted on Twitter on Tuesday, slamming Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic:
"Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic.
"To call Trump's response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn't do it justice.This won't protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone."
A senior Trump administration official confirmed the move to Newsmax:
"The United States' notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO."
CNN reported the move, citing multiple unnamed officials. One official told CNN that the decision was announced in a very short letter to the United Nations that outlined year-long withdrawal process.
Trump has promised to pull the country out of the organization, and has labeled it as a "puppet of China."
Last week, the WHO walked back its claim it had received a warning about coronavirus from the Chinese government, and Monday, the United States accused the organization of allowing COVID-19 to spin "out of control" at the cost of "many lives," reports the BBC.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told the United Nations' World Health Assembly, the WHO had failed "to obtain the information that the world needed."
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has agreed to an independent evaluation of the agency's handling of the pandemic "at the earliest opportunity."
Before the reports about the United States broke Tuesday, Tedros told a WHO briefing, the coronavirus outbreak was "accelerating, and we have clearly not reached the peak of the pandemic," and warning divisions could not happen, reports CBS News.
"More than six months in, the case for national unity and global solidarity is undeniable," he said. "We cannot afford any divisions."
He also stressed, many countries are seeing cases and deaths rise, but globally, there is a decline in deaths.
Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said there are many explanations for the decline in deaths, but he warned there could just be a lag and that deaths could go up.
The rise in cases, though, is "not purely a result of testing," Ryan added.
Tedros said a team of WHO experts will travel to China later this week to research working to understand how the coronavirus first ended up reaching humans.
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