US notifies leaving WHO as virus cases top 3m

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Foreign Desk Report

WASHINGTON: The US coronavirus outbreak crossed a grim milestone of over 3 million confirmed cases as more states reported record numbers of new infections, and Florida faced an impending shortage of intensive care unit hospital beds.
Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily caseloads in roughly two dozen states over the past two weeks, a sign that efforts to control transmission of the novel coronavirus have failed in large swaths of the country. California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas on Tuesday shattered their previous daily record highs for new cases. The biggest jumps occurred in Texas and California, the two largest U.S. states, with more than 10,000 each. About 24 states have reported disturbingly high infection rates as a percentage of diagnostic tests conducted over the past week. In Texas alone, the number of hospitalized patients more than doubled in just two weeks.
The trend has driven many more Americans to seek out COVID-19 screenings. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday it was adding short-term “surge” testing sites in three metropolitan areas in Florida, Louisiana and Texas. The Trump administration has begun the process of withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), a move that could affect the Geneva-based UN agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, was sent Monday to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. It stems from President Donald Trump’s vow in late May to terminate US participation in the WHO, which he has harshly criticized for its response to the pandemic and accused it of bowing to Chinese influence.
Former US Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said he would reverse the decision on his first day in office if elected. “Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health,” he tweeted. Under the terms of a joint resolution passed by Congress in 1948, the United States must give a year’s notice and pay its debts to the agency to leave.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN chief, said Guterres was “verifying with the World Health Organization whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met.” When Trump first threatened to withdraw, Democratic lawmakers argued that doing so would be illegal and vowed to push back. Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted Tuesday that Congress had received notification of the withdrawal, which he said “leaves Americans sick & America alone.”
Congressman James Comer, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, called the withdrawal “the right decision.”
“Until the WHO undergoes some serious reforms, it doesn’t deserve our money or our membership,” he said in a statement.