Patient and medical supervisor preparing for a COVID-19 nasal swab test. Image created by Russell Tate on Unsplash. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives – help stop the spread of COVID-19.

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The federal government will end its support for 13 drive-thru coronavirus testing sites on June 30. The 13 affected sites are located in Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Seven sites in Texas will be specifically affected, in spite of the state setting daily records for coronavirus cases.

Four U.S. congresspeople from Texas urged the government to reconsider defunding the testing sites in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services as well as FEMA. The letter referred to the end of funding support as “harmful and irresponsible,” specifically outlining the “heavy burden” that would be placed on state health departments as a result. Four of the testing sites that will lose funding are in Harris County, which includes Houston, where doctors have warned that hospitals are nearing capacity. The four sites, the Houston Chronicle reported, administer combined thousands of tests a day.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been a leading voice in the argument against the testing site cuts. A spokesman for Cruz told NBC News that he “has urged and will continue to urge [health officials] to extend the community testing sites in Texas”.

Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the Trump administration is not abandoning federally funded coronavirus testing sites completely and is instead providing federal support “in a different way.” In an email statement, Giroir said, “We have worked carefully to make sure that [the 13 sites] could sunset without losing any services to any people.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Coronavirus: Federal government will end funding for 13 community-based Covid-19 test sites, most in Texas – CNBC – 6/24/20
The Trump administration will end federal funding for 13 community-based coronavirus testing sites by the end of June as part of a previously announced plan to extend financial support for Covid-19 testing across the nation by other means.

Trump administration to end federal support for COVID-19 testing sites – NBC News -6/24/20
As the number of coronavirus infections continues to climb across the country — particularly now in the South and West — the Trump administration is planning to end its funding and support for coronavirus testing sites at the end of the month.

Lawmakers protest as feds pull support from 4 Harris County COVID testing sites – The Houston Chronicle -6/24/20
The Trump administration is planning to pull federal support for some coronavirus testing sites across the nation at the end of the month, including seven in Texas, where confirmed cases of COVID are spiking.

Trump Administration Transitioning To ‘More Sustainable’ Federal Testing Strategy, To Be Completed By June 30 – The Daily Caller -6/24/20
The Trump administration plans to fully transition its federally-supported coronavirus testing sites into a “long term, sustainable” model by the end of June, White House and administration officials told the Daily Caller.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Scott Dworkin on Twitter, 6/24/20: BREAKING: Trump is ending funding for 13 coronavirus testing sites in 5 states. This is an example of Trump slowing testing in broad daylight. It’s criminal.

Chuck Schumer on Twitter, 6/24/20: Let me get this straight: Cases are spiking across the country. The admin has $14 billion for testing and tracing that they haven’t spent. But President Trump thinks the right move is to pull federal support for testing out of hotspot areas!?

Alyssa Farah on Twitter, 6/24/20: Admiral Giroir on false reports of US scaling back fed testing support: “The fed govt is NOT ending funding or support for COVID19 testing sites. On the contrary, we’ve EXPANDED from the original 41 sites to over 600 in 48 states & DC in the federal bundled payment program.”

Brad Mielke on Twitter, 6/24/20: Before you say “oh so the president IS ordering fewer tests” — HHS says these sites were created before clinics could conduct tests. Now they can, so there’s plenty of testing nearby. HHS: “The federal government is not ending funding or support for COVID-19 testing sites.”

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