Washington, DC (STL.News) – The US Department of State released the following statement:
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, welcome back to Good Morning Orlando here on WFLA across the Florida peninsula. (Inaudible) live this morning.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s great to be with you today. Great to be with you today.
QUESTION: What is your assessment of the administration’s response to the coronavirus? I mean, you’ve – for years, you were in politics in your home state of Kansas. You’re looking at this across the land right now. What are your thoughts?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I’ve watched the entire administration under the President’s leadership work – work with governors, work with counties, work with medical providers to deliver good outcomes for the American people. I’ve watched what has been the tragic loss of life here in the United States over these past weeks. I’ve watched all the challenges and hardship that take place, even from friends of mine back home in Kansas, who can’t go to work, can’t do the things that they love and have always wanted to do. It was a very difficult Easter Sunday for folks.
But I’ve also watched the American people respond in ways that are in the finest traditions of our country. And I’ve watched President Trump lead our team assisting – to providing the assistance that every American needs, both the – on the health care side, which everyone’s seen, and now what the Treasury Department is doing to make sure that there are financial resources that are made available, consistent with what Congress provided for them. So I’m very hopeful that we are turning the corner and heading in the right direction to fight back against this incredibly difficult challenge, this virus.
QUESTION: How about the worldwide perspective? As our top diplomat, Mr. Secretary, what about the worldwide perspective? You’re in touch with countries. I know you were doing interviews on the German media yesterday. I mean, in terms of the world getting beyond the coronavirus, do you feel – and globally – that we have turned the corner?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Every country’s been hit at different times. This is a virus that began in Wuhan, China. They were impacted first. You saw the tragedies that took place in Italy, where their health care system was overwhelmed. Now you have other places that are a little bit after those places, like Brazil. The United Kingdom is still struggling mightily. I’m very hopeful that we can collectively work together to push back against this virus. As we’ve seen, it comes in across the boundary. People travel; it gets into our country. We need to do everything we can to make sure we take care of people back here at home, but then make sure that this virus is stamped out all across the world so it doesn’t come back in here to our country.
QUESTION: Amen to that. Before we move on to other things, I know you wanted to talk about the unprecedented efforts that our government is making in your State Department to repatriate U.S. citizens caught overseas in the middle of a pandemic.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I’m sure many of your listeners had family members or knew people who were traveling. They were on a mission trip or they were taking a vacation or traveling on business, and all of a sudden, airlines shut down, buses stop moving, trains stop moving all across the world.
We’ve now brought back over 61,000 United States citizens from all across the world, from 109 countries, flown several hundred flights all across the world to bring these stranded Americans back. It’s been quite an undertaking. I’m very proud of what our team did. But mostly, I’m happy. I’m happy that we got these people back to their families, back to their homes, back to the places that they know and love so much, and they’re not trapped and stranded somewhere. We still have folks who are there, and I will tell you there are still people out there traveling. If you need assistance, you reach out to the State Department, and we’ll do our best to make sure everybody gets back.
QUESTION: Yeah, we’re talking live to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, a number of State Department employees were infected with the coronavirus. What’s their status? And if they have been or are in lockdown, is this impacting U.S. diplomacy around the world?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So our team has been great. We’ve done all the right things that protect and make sure our team stays as healthy as possible, but we’ve had – we’ve got a workforce of tens of thousands of people. We’ve had a couple hundred people that have been impacted by the coronavirus. Unfortunately, we’ve had three of our team members overseas pass away as well. So we are not unaffected either, but we are still able to do our job. And the American people should know that we are still out in our embassies, still working, doing our work, making sure that we get people the assistance they need if they’re traveling abroad.
So I’m very proud of my team. We’ve performed our mission. We stayed focused in spite of the fact that we, too, are operating in many places that – 180-plus countries around the world, each of whom is impacted in its own way by this virus.
QUESTION: Yeah. And Mr. Secretary, if I could work in one more quick question here, President Trump’s been critical of the World Health Organization, even threatening to cut off funding. What is the state of the U.S. relationship with the WHO?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we got to get this right. The World Health Organization too has shown that it didn’t get it right at the beginning, and we’ve got to make sure that the money that we’re spending – U.S. taxpayer dollars, the money that comes from people here in the United States – is being used for good purposes and for its intended mission.
The World Health Organization in its history has done some good work. Unfortunately here, it didn’t hit the top of its game, and we need to make sure that we push through efforts to fundamentally change that or make a different decision that says we’re going to do our part to make sure that these important world health obligations, things that frankly keep Americans safe too, actually function. We should make sure that the – anyplace we send American taxpayer dollars is fit for purpose.
QUESTION: May I ask you very quickly in closing, because I know our time has gone here, is the United States going to punish China for lying and covering up about the coronavirus right from the beginning? We’ve got a class action lawsuit coming out of Florida to that effect. What about it?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m very confident – as President Trump has said, I’m very confident that when the time is right, those who didn’t act appropriately or misled or didn’t put information out properly, or frankly, those who engaged in disinformation campaigns, I’m confident they’ll be held accountable when the time is right.
QUESTION: It’s an honor to have you back with us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much, sir.
QUESTION: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here on Good Morning Orlando. Have a good day, sir, and stay healthy.