Trump administration will end federal support for COVID-19 test sites

As the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise across the country, particularly now in the south and west, the Trump administration plans to end its funding and support for coronavirus testing sites by the end of the month.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services tells NBC News that the federal government is “expanding its support for community testing to a more sustainable model, specifically: continued support from retail and pharmacy associations in more than 600 locations and offering COVID-19 testing at more than 1,300 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) nationwide. “

The Trump administration initially planned to transition the so-called Community-Based Testing Sites program to local control in April, but extended federal support after rejection by local lawmakers.

A source described that move as a “just once” extension.

As of Wednesday, there are 13 federally supported testing sites located in five states: Illinois and New Jersey have two, Colorado and Pennsylvania have one, and Texas has seven.

A spokesman for Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz said he “has urged and will continue to urge HHS and FEMA to expand community testing sites in Texas.”

Rocky Vaz, the Dallas, Texas director of emergency management, said the city has “a plan and the ability to continue testing.” But public health experts point out that as states take responsibility for these test sites, it could complicate contact tracking and other mitigation efforts.

Brett Giroir, HHS assistant secretary of health, said in a statement: “The federal government is not ending funding or support for COVID-19 test sites. Rather, we have expanded from the original 41 sites to more than 600 in 48 states and the District of Columbia in the federal pharmacy grouped payment program, and have enabled more than 1,400 additional pharmacy sites through flexibility Regulatory that empowers pharmacists and facilitates billing and reimbursement. “

“HHS will continue to increase testing capacity overall, and make it more accessible, especially to underserved communities,” the statement said.