In the midst of Holy Week, which is also supposed to be the point of peak coronavirus deaths, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was able to deliver some welcome news.
“Since Jan. 29, we have now repatriated over 50,000 United States citizens back to their homes from more than 90 countries, more than 490 flights back to the United States from all across the world,” Pompeo said Wednesday during the White House press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic. “This worldwide scale of our repatriation efforts is without parallel in our lifetime.”
Americans traveling abroad for vacation or business became stranded after the coronavirus outbreak when many countries shut down the flights, rail lines, and busses needed to leave the country or even a specific part of the country.
“We are coordinating with foreign governments, militaries, airport authorities, medical units, transportation companies, hotels, you name it—we are working with them to make sure the American people get back to be with their families,” Pompeo added. In response to a question, he later said, “We are going to be done when people can travel on their own again.”
This week Christians are celebrating Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, and Jews are marking Passover.
“Earlier today, I spoke with 10,000 of America’s faith leaders to thank them for raising the spirits of our people during these very difficult days,” Trump said. “While we may be physically apart, we can use this time to pray, to reflect, and to focus on our personal relationship with God.”
Pompeo was asked about the World Health Organization, which Trump said Tuesday he would consider holding funding for.
“At this point we are reevaluating our funding with respect to the World Health Organization,” Pompeo said. “This is very consistent with what President Trump said since the beginning of his campaign. Organizations have to work. They have to deliver. They have to deliver the outcomes for which they were intended.”
The United States is the largest funder of the WHO, contributing about 15% of the organization’s $38 billion budget, while China contributes less than 1%. However, the WHO unquestioningly parroted China’s propaganda in the early days of the coronavirus spread, downplaying the threat of the spread.
“We have to make sure that not only the World Health Organization but every international organization that we take taxpayer money and give it to them for the benefit of America, they need to make sure it’s delivering on those taxpayer dollars,” Pompeo said.
“The World Health Organization is no different in that respect,” he added. “They have to execute on the mission that they were designed to achieve. And, we’ve seen with respect to the World Health Organization, … it hasn’t accomplished what it was intended to deliver.”