At least 6,105 people have been confirmed to have the virus in Missouri and at least 229 have died, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University.
Schmitt, in his official role as attorney general of Missouri, filed the civil lawsuit in federal court in the eastern district of Missouri.
Legal experts have said the lawsuit faces an uphill battle because China is protected by sovereign immunity. CNN is reaching out to the Chinese government for comment.
Missouri’s lawsuit alleges that while the Chinese medical community had indications of human-to-human transmission of the virus, they did not inform the World Health Organization when they first reported the outbreak.
It also alleges Chinese leaders did little to curb spread of the virus, still allowing thousands of people to travel to and out of Wuhan.
“In mid-January, on or around January 16, despite knowing the risks of doing so, Wuhan leaders hosted a potluck dinner for 40,000 residents, increasing the potential spread of the virus,” it says. “Defendants allowed these massive public gatherings and massive exodus from Wuhan despite knowing the risks of COVID-19, including the risk of human-to-human transmission.”
The state also alleges China hoarded PPE while concealing the outbreak and that the small amounts they have released have been “faulty.”
Those, among other actions taken by Chinese officials had a massive toll on human life and health and has led to “enormous” economic disruptions across the world, according to the lawsuit.
“Before the pandemic, Missouri had one of its lowest unemployment rates of the past decade, but on information and belief, Missouri’s unemployment rate is now the highest it has been since the Great Depression,” the suit claims. “Responding to the pandemic has required shutting down businesses, disrupting ordinary production and trade, and dislocating workers.”
CNN’s Chris Boyette and Hira Humayun contributed to this report.
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