Trump Admin To End Funding And Support For Local COVID Testing Sites This Month

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour / Public Domain

PMH

Thirteen sites across five states will lose federal support on June 30. In April, there were originally forty-one sites.

Talking Points Memo reports that President Donald J. Trump’s administration will end funding for thirteen local COVID-19 testing sites across the country this month.

  • These thirteen sites, among forty-one sites setup in early April to speed up local testing, operate through federal funding.
  • TPM writes, “Local officials and public health experts expressed a mixture of frustration, resignation, and horror at the decision to let federal support lapse.”
  • Texas will be “particularly hard hit,” as it hosts seven of the federally-funded testing sites where the support provides “much-needed” kits and laboratory access.
  • Texas is additionally seeing new peaks in cases, and testing sites often have long lines, TPM reports.
  • Dallas County hosts two of the sites facing imminent loss of federal funding. Rocky Vaz, the director of emergency management for the city of Dallas, told TPM that “cases are continuing to rise in Dallas County, and we want to continue with the testing” but “They told us very clearly that they are not going to extend it.”
  • The other sites losing federal funding include two each in Illinois and New Jersey and one each in Colorado and Pennsylvania.
  • TPM explains, “The aid for testing takes a financial burden off of cities and states already buckling under a budget crunch from the pandemic, while boosting testing capacity.”
  • Vaz, the emergency management director, told TPM that continuing to operate a testing site would cost the city of Dallas $130 to $150 per test.

Trump himself has expressed opposition to expanded testing. On June 23, he Tweeted,

Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!

And in a rally at Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20, he announced that he instructed his administration to “slow the testing down.” He said,

You know testing is a double-edged sword… When you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people. You're going to find more cases. So I said to my people, “Slow the testing down, please.”

Gary Slutkin, a former World Health Organization epidemiologist and the CEO Of CURE Violence, told TPM that “the federal government has the greatest capacity to be helpful” in the field of testing. Slutkin explains that testing provides much-needed data, without which appropriate response is difficult.

Testing is absolutely essential to everything from diagnosis and treatment to management of the epidemic itself… withholding of this essential tool for controlling this problem is cruel—it inhibits the ability of a country or a city or a community or a person or healthcare provider to know what to do.

Slutkin also said, “Testing is important not just in places where cases have expanded, it’s important everywhere in the world regardless of prevalence,” and “It is the absolute essential for epidemic control.”

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