With coronavirus cases rising in Texas and other states, the Trump administration is reportedly planning to end federal support for 13 testing sites, seven of those in Texas, by June 30, according to CNBC.
The Community-Based Test Sites program was intended to transition from federal to local control in April, but the federal support continued as COVID-19 testing in communities remained necessary. The testing sites, which are in five states, will become a public-private partnership in local cities and states, according to a report Wednesday afternoon. Outside of Texas, there are two sites in Illinois, two in New Jersey, one in Colorado and one in Pennsylvania.
Texas officials are imploring the administration to reconsider the move, warning that pulling federal support of the sites could have “catastrophic cascading consequences,” according to a Houston Chronicle report. Texas officials have requested that the support be extended to Aug. 30. Harris County, which has Houston as its county seat, has four of the seven Texas sites, where some experts say the impact of COVID-19 could be the most severe without proper testing.
Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant HHS secretary, said in a statement that the federal government is not ending funding or support for testing, The Hill reported Wednesday. Instead, he said the government is providing more support to pharmacies and other medical centers in 48 states and Washington, D.C. The standalone sites supported by the federal government will no longer exist, but those approximately 600 locations, like those at Kroger and CVS, will offer testing services.
“All 13 sites were provided an extra 30 days from the original transition date in May, and I personally spoke with Governors from all 5 states involved, and/or their leadership designees, who agreed that it was the appropriate time to transition out of the original 13 sites and into the thousands of new testing options,” he added.
Texas’ case count has been rising since the end of May, with the state breaking records for its daily new case count on Monday and Tuesday, with 4,760 and 5,080 new cases respectively, according to The Hill.
A spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the Chronicle the senator “has urged and will continue to urge HHS and FEMA to extend the community testing sites in Texas.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, spoke out against the news, saying President Donald Trump “thinks the right move is to pull federal support for testing out of hotspot areas” despite spiking case numbers.
Trump said in a series of tweets over the weekend that widespread testing is leading to the growth in coronavirus cases across the country.
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