Trump ‘does not withdraw support’ from COVID-19 test sites, official says

The Trump administration is not abandoning federally funded coronavirus testing sites, the administration’s test czar COVID-19 said Wednesday.

Admiral Brett Giroir, deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that although the government will stop directly funding 13 community-based coronavirus testing sites, the number of tests will not decrease and the sites should not lose resources.

“We are not withdrawing support,” said Giroir. “We are providing federal support in a different way.”

Giroir said the sites, which are located in Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania, will be backed by the $ 11 billion Congress allocated for testing and contact tracing, as are hundreds of other sites across the country. .

“We have worked carefully to make sure that [the 13 sites] it could fall without losing any services to anyone, “said Giroir.

Giroir said those 13 sites will remain open and be operated by the states. He said the governors were aware of the transition plan to state control, which had been in effect since April.

“There is no reason why a bulky, non-responsive, parallel system should occur when states can and will take care of them,” Giroir said.

While the transition may have been planned, the movement occurs when the coronavirus is emerging in Texas, especially in the Houston area. Hospitals are reaching full capacity, and cases on Wednesday reached a record high.

Local officials have urged the administration to reconsider.

David Persse, who heads the Houston Department of Health, sent a letter to Assistant Surgeon General Erica Schwartz asking for federal support to continue until the end of August.

“Losing federal government support for test sites will undoubtedly have catastrophic cascading consequences on the region’s ability to adequately test, quarantine, and isolate, ultimately reducing the progression of COVID-19,” Persse said. .

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) said the city has limited resources and that keeping federal sites open will distance those resources from other sites that also need to be open during the current surge.

In Congress, the Texas senator John CornynJohn CornynTrump, Republican clash over new round of checks Schumer says Democrats will block Republican police reform bill Republican Senator will introduce bill to reduce qualified immunity for police MORE (R) rejected the decision.

“It is quite clear to me, and I think it is clear to all of us, that with the increase in cases, now is not the time to withdraw from our vigilance in testing,” Cornyn said.

The move also comes only days later President TrumpDonald John Trump Bowman has a double-digit lead over Engel in New York. McGrath leads Booker in Kentucky with results expected next week New York Republican Chris Jacobs wins special election to replace Chris Collins MORE He said at a campaign rally that he told officials to stop the evidence because an increase in the number of cases made the country look bad.

Giroir said there was never an intention to lessen the evidence and that the governors know it.

“Let me say definitely that we are moving to increase the evidence, both the number, the amount, and the focus on social vulnerability, and we will continue to do so,” said Giroir.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established 41 community-based test sites at coronavirus hotspots across the country in March, but the program has evolved since those initial sites opened, and now only 13.

Those sites are now out of date, Giroir said. They were closely focused and operated when supplies were much more limited.

Giroir said there are now more than 600 testing sites in 48 states operating under a federal program that will reimburse retail pharmacies for providing testing.

The Trump administration originally announced in April that it would suspend federal support for the remaining 13 community testing sites, but was delayed after lawmakers pulled out.