Trump finds a new scapegoat for his failed coronavirus response

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Trump on Tuesday said he is thinking of freezing U.S. funding for the World Health Organization, claiming, 'They seem to be very China-centric.'

Donald Trump has apparently found a new scapegoat for his administration's slow response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the World Health Organization, an health agency of the United Nations that has taken the lead in the global coronavirus response, is to blame.

"We want to look into it — World Health Organization — because they really are — they called it wrong. They called it wrong. They really — they missed the call," Trump said at Tuesday's daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. "They could have called it months earlier. They would have known, and they should have known. And they probably did know, so we'll be looking into that very carefully."

Trump had been blaming former President Barack Obama for Trump's own administration's slow response, falsely saying that Obama had hampered his ability to create tests for COVID-19.

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But at least one Republican lawmaker had been laying the groundwork for blaming the WHO over the past week.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said on March 31 that the agency was "helping Communist China cover up" the COVID-19 outbreak and should have its funding cut.

Scott pushed that same message on Fox News on Monday.

"American taxpayers shouldn't be funding organizations that are lying to us & kowtowing to Communist China," Scott tweeted with a link to his appearance on Fox News personality Tucker Carlson's show. "China consistently lied about the #Coronavirus, tried to hide the spread from the global community and the @WHO helped them."

That idea made its way to Trump, who on Tuesday said he is thinking of freezing U.S. funding for WHO, noting, "They seem to be very China-centric."

The World Health Organization did sound the alarm early about the novel coronavirus.

It declared a public health emergency on Jan. 30.

WHO said in a statement that same day that it was "still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk."

At the same time, Trump was publicly downplaying the virus, comparing it to the flu and suggesting it would "miraculously" go away.

As the Washington Post reported on April 4, Trump squandered 70 days downplaying and ignoring the virus, from when he was first told about it on Jan. 3 to when he finally began to treat it as a threat.

Because of that wasted time, the Post noted, the United States didn't acquire vital tools such as ventilators and personal protective equipment for health care workers battling the virus, didn't build up the proper testing capabilities, and didn't implement social distancing measures to slow the spread early enough.

The number of cases of COVID-19 has skyrocketed in the United States, with at least 398,000 cases and 12,893 deaths reported so far.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.