White House scraps G-7 summit in favor of videoconference due to coronavirus

White House scraps G-7 summit in favor of videoconference due to coronavirus
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This summer's Group of Seven (G-7) summit has been scrapped due to concerns over the coronavirus, the White House confirmed Thursday.

World leaders will instead convene via videoconference.

The annual summit was scheduled to take place from June 10-12 at the Camp David retreat in Maryland and would have attracted hundreds of officials, journalists and staff to the area.

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“In order for each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of COVID-19 and at President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE’s direction, National Economic Council Director and U.S. Sherpa for the 2020 G7 Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE has informed his Sherpa colleagues that the G7 Leaders’ Summit the U.S. was set to host in June at Camp David will now be done by video-teleconference," deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.

"The White House also informed the other G7 members that in order to continue close coordination, the President will convene the Leaders’ via video teleconference in April and May just as he did this week," he added.

World leaders are expected to divert resources that would have otherwise been used on preparing for the G-7 toward addressing the coronavirus pandemic, an administration official said.

G-7 member countries include the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, though the host country can invite other world leaders as they see fit. Trump had previously floated inviting Russia, which was kicked out of the then-Group of Eight after it illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

The summit is the latest major event to be canceled, postponed or altered due to the coronavirus.

The virus has infected roughly 12,000 people in the U.S. as of Friday, and it has killed close to 10,000 worldwide.

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It has also slowed the global economy as public health officials have advised against holding large gatherings and countries around the world have shuttered restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses to try and mitigate the spread of the virus.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Sunday that no gatherings of 50 or more people be held for the next eight weeks. That guidance would expire about a month before the G-7 summit was set to be held.

The White House announced in October that the summit would be held at the Trump Organization's Doral property in Florida, triggering swift backlash from lawmakers and ethics experts who decried it as a conflict of interest given the president has not put his family company in a blind trust.

President Trump gave into pressure a few days later, announcing that the summit would no longer take place at Doral. He said in December that Camp David would serve as the new host site.