Perry: Trump is 'spot on' with WHO funding suspension

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Congressman Scott Perry attended opening ceremonies at the 104th Pennsylvania Farm Show Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Saturday was the first day of the week-long farm show. Bill Kalina photo

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry on Wednesday threw his support behind President Donald Trump's decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organization amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump earlier that day suspended all funding to the agency responsible for international public health for 60 to 90 days while his administration investigates the agency, accusing it of mismanaging and covering up key details about the coronavirus.

Perry, a Carroll Township Republican, said the president's decision was "spot on" in a tweet on Wednesday.

"WHO's botched COVID-19 investigation did a huge disservice to the American people and the int'l community," Perry wrote. "To protect the Chinese Communist govt, WHO put the health of 7.8 bil people at risk."

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U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, did not respond to inquiries for comment.

Trump, who himself has come under scrutiny for not implementing mitigation efforts sooner, on Wednesday said the U.S. contributed $400 million to $500 million to the WHO annually.

"Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death," Trump said.

The president also claimed WHO "pushed China’s misinformation about the virus, saying it wasn’t communicable and there was no need for travel bans."

In January, however, the president praised China in a tweet, writing that "China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus."

Health experts nationwide, including the American Medical Association, immediately denounced the administration's actions.

“During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier," said AMA President Patrice A. Harris in a statement.

The decision came as roughly 640,000 cases had been confirmed in the U.S. — the most confirmed cases of any country in the world — with the death toll exceeding 31,000.

Pennsylvania reported 27,735 confirmed coronavirus cases and 707 deaths as of noon Thursday.

Trump is already in an ongoing dispute about how to reopen the battered economy, another subject health experts have stringently opposed.

The president initially had claimed that he, not governors, has the ability to open the economy. Legal experts promptly questioned the constitutional merit because of the separation of powers and 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The president has since seemingly walked back the claim, as governors such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have said they would defy the order. 

Wolf and Cuomo, along with five other governors, announced April 13 they would work collaboratively to slowly reopen their respective economies by creating "working groups."

The groups will be composed of top health and economic development officials as well as the governors' respective chiefs of staff.

Cuomo on Thursday extended the state's stay-at-home order until May 15. Wolf has said he has no plans to follow suit.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.