As Coronavirus cases continue to spike across the US, the nation on June 24 saw its largest daily increase in confirmed new infections since the pandemic began, the Trump administration is reportedly planning to cut off federal funding for 13 coronavirus testing sites in five states at the end of the month, a move that is in keeping with the President’s vow to slow screenings for the virus. As reported by Politico on June 24, the federal government is ending its support for 13 drive-thru coronavirus testing sites on June 30, urging states to take over their operations, even as cases spike in several parts of the country. Seven of the sites set to lose federal funding and support are located in Texas, which has seen new Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations skyrocket during the reopening process, a spike that Texas Governor Greg Abbott (one of President Donald Trump’s strongest supporters at the state level) predicted last month in a private call that leaked to reporters. Texas was one of six states that saw a record increase in new infections on Wednesday. The other testing sites that will lose federal support next week are located in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New Jersey.
Texas lawmakers reacted with alarm to the administration’s plan, which was reported days after President Donald Trump said during a weekend rally in Oklahoma that he ordered a slowdown in coronavirus testing. White House officials claimed Trump’s comments were made “in jest,” but the President on June 23 doubled down and told reporters that he was not joking. “Texas continues to set records for the number of new cases and hospitalizations and Harris County leads the state in number of confirmed cases,” Texas Democratic Conrgressmembers Sylvia Garcia, Al Green, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, and Sheila Jackson Lee wrote in letters this week to US Surgeon General Jerome Adams and to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Pete Gaynor. Rocky Vaz, the director of emergency management for Dallas, told Talking Points Memo that the city asked for an extension of federal support for two testing sites in Dallas County but was denied by the Trump administration. “They told us very clearly that they are not going to extend it,” Vaz said. “We are not expecting it to continue beyond June 30, but things change.” On several occasions in recent weeks, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have falsely claimed that the recent surge in Coronavirus cases is the result of an expansion of testing rather than an actual spread of the virus. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, President Trump said coronavirus testing is “overrated” and “makes us look bad.”
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), demanded in a statement on June 24 that President Donald Trump immediately reverses the plan to end federal support for testing sites. “The pandemic is clearly getting worse in states nationwide—and instead of trying harder to stop it, President Trump is trying harder to hide it,” said Murray. “It’s completely unacceptable that while billions in federal dollars Congress passed to support testing sit unspent, this administration is closing testing sites in states where new Covid-19 cases are rapidly on the rise.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) echoed Murray and urged Congress to intervene to ensure that the testing sites remain open and at full capacity. “Donald Trump can’t run from the facts: Covid-19 cases are still increasing and Americans are still dying,” Warren tweeted. “This is unacceptable—and Congress must act immediately to counter this reckless and inhumane measure.”