Coronavirus

Rick Scott calls for congressional inquiry into WHO's coronavirus response

The Florida senator has raised concerns over WHO’s relationship with Beijing.

Rick Scott

Sen. Rick Scott on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation into the World Health Organization, suggesting the U.S. should cut off its funding for “helping Communist China cover up” the full extent of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Florida Republican, a noted China hawk, has long raised concerns about the WHO’s relationship with Beijing, which has undercounted the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

“The mission of the WHO is to get public health information to the world so every country can make the best decisions to keep their citizens safe. When it comes to coronavirus, the WHO failed,” Scott said, accusing the global health organization of willfully spreading misinformation.

“We know Communist China is lying about how many cases and deaths they have, what they knew and when they knew it — and the WHO never bothered to investigate further,” Scott added. “Their inaction cost lives.”

He said the WHO “willfully parroted propaganda” from China’s Communist Party, and he called for hearings and a full investigation when Congress returns to Washington next month.

The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Scott and other lawmakers have raised questions about the WHO’s refusal to grant membership to Taiwan, which the Chinese government has tried to alienate from the global community.

The WHO has come under intense scrutiny in recent days over its initial efforts to downplay the severity of the novel coronavirus, including in a Jan. 14 tweet stating that ”preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” of the virus.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more than 150 countries, almost entirely via person-to-person contact. More than 175,000 Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 3,500 have died.

Scott, a freshman senator, has called for aggressive policies to combat the spread of the virus in the U.S. and has been among the most vocal critics of the Chinese government.

The southeast region of Scott’s home state, Florida, is under a lockdown order until at least April 15.