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Utah Attacks Obama-Era Dependence on WHO Determination

July 21, 2022

Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes signed a petition attacking an Obama-era rule which allowed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to rely upon the World Health Organization (WHO) to determine a “public health emergency.” In the last two days of President Obama’s second term, HHS implemented a rule that permitted HHS to rely on a WHO determination of a global health emergency. This could lead to the implementation of pandemic-like measures in America based on a determination made by the WHO.

Attorney General Reyes joins Oklahoma in a petition to change this rule with the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas.

The Obama rule allowed HHS to rely solely on information from, and determinations by, the WHO in declaring a public health emergency in the U.S. In particular, the rule defines a “public health emergency” to include disease events that have led the WHO to issue recommendations, even disease events reported by other countries to the WHO as potential emergencies.

Attorney General Reyes requests that HHS amend 42 C.F.R § 70.1 to delete those definitions of “public health emergency” because they exceed HHS’s authority.

Additionally, AG Reyes calls on HHS to amend its rules because the WHO has proven to be an unreliable agency since the definitions were adopted, allowing political influence to manipulate its health information. For example, “In January 2020, the WHO surprised many observers by failing to declare COVID a public health emergency under international rules even though COVID met the legal criteria for such a declaration,” the letter says. “Instead of reporting public health information, the WHO chose to repeat Chinese propaganda regarding COVID.”

Read a copy of the petition here.