US suggests world leaders skip General Assembly in-person

The United States on Wednesday urged the leaders of nearly 200 countries to consider giving video addresses at the United Nations General Assembly in September instead of traveling to New York where the event is being held to prevent a possible “super-spreader event.”

In a memo from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations obtained by The Associated Press, the U.S. called on 192 other member nations to consider giving video messages instead of traveling to the U.S. in the midst of a wave of new COVID-19 cases.

The mission also suggested that all U.N.-hosted meetings and events be virtual, saying meetings that gather large groups of people together in places like New York “needlessly increase risk to our community, New Yorkers and the other travelers.”

According to the AP, the mission said that the Biden administration was particularly concerned about Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the incoming General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid hosting events about climate change and vaccines.

“The United States is willing to make every effort to make these important events on shared priorities successful in a virtual format,” the mission said.

The 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly is expected to begin on Sept. 21 and end on Sept. 30. Last year’s assembly was not held in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the U.S. decided to allow world leaders the option of attending in-person or virtually this year.

The U.S. is currently experiencing a surge of new cases, with hospitalizations around the country rising.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national seven-day average for new cases is currently over 130,000. Around 86 percent of counties in the U.S. are rated as having a “high” rate of transmission by the CDC.

Tags New York UN General Assembly United Nations

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