New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that he agrees with President Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organization’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Whose job is it to warn us of these global pandemics? The president says it’s the World Health Organization, and that’s why he’s taken action against them. Not my field, but he’s right to ask the question,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing on the coronavirus situation.
“Because this was too little, too late,” the Democratic governor continued. “Let’s find out what happened so it doesn’t happen again. And it will happen again. Bank on it. Let’s not put our head in the sand and say, this is the only global pandemic that we’ll ever have to deal with.”
Trump has hammered the WHO over its early response to the pandemic, accusing it of being partial to China and endangering countries by recommending borders be kept open.
“The W.H.O. really blew it,” Trump wrote on Twitter earlier this month. “For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
In January, the WHO recommended that countries keep borders and trade open even as it dubbed the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency.
The Trump administration has begun rerouting funding away from the WHO, suspending payments until a review is conducted “to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Trump said.
Trump has also complained that the WHO is overly-deferential to China despite the U.S. providing substantially more funding to the organization. The U.S. provides about $400 million to the WHO annually, and is by far the largest contributor to the agency, covering 15 percent of its budget. By contrast, China annually contributes 0.2 percent of the budget. However, Beijing announced Friday that it will provide an additional $30 million to the WHO this year to fill the gap left by Trump’s funding cut.
The WHO response sparked criticism as well from several Republican senators, who accused the global health group of helping China cover up the extent of the spread of the virus within its borders.
As of Friday afternoon, New York has more than 263,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 15,700 people have died. The U.S. has seen 44,500 deaths resulting from the virus.