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Coronavirus: Federal government will end funding for 13 community-based Covid-19 test sites, most in Texas

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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 support for Covid-19 testing across the nation by other means.

The move, confirmed by NBC News, will affect seven sites in Texas, which has seen a surge of Covid-19 cases.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, is pushing back against the decision by the administration.

A Cruz spokesman told NBC News that the senator “has urged and will continue to urge [health officials] to extend the community testing sites in Texas.”

Rocky Vaz,  the director of emergency management for Dallas, Texas, told NBC that the city  has “a plan and the capacity to continue testing.” 

The six other affected sites are located in Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

The administration originally announced in April that it would discontinue federal support for the baker’s dozen of community-based Covid-19 test sites saying the move was part of an effort to broaden community testing and encourage more private-public partnerships for testing.

The administration had delayed the decision, which had met with resistance from lawmakers, until now.

Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration’s testing czar, told NBC News in a statement that, “The federal government is not ending funding or support for COVID-19 testing sites.”

“On the contrary, we have expanded from the original 41 sites to over 600 in 48 states and the District of Columbia in the federal bundled payment program to pharmacies, and enabled over 1400 additional pharmacy sites through regulatory flexibility empowering pharmacists and facilitating billing and reimbursement.”

President Donald Trump (L) and Vice President Mike Pence attend a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters on March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Evan Vucci | Getty Images

Giroir said the U.S. Health and Human Services Department “will continue to increase testing capacity overall, and make it more accessible especially to underserved communities.”

“The only truthful, but still misleading report in the media, is that we are transitioning 13 sites from the original now antiquated program to the more efficient and effective testing sites outlined above,” he said.

“All 13 sites were provided an extra 30 days from the original transition date in May, and I personally spoke with Governors from all 5 states involved, and/or their leadership designees, who agreed that it was the appropriate time to transition out of the original 13 sites and into the thousands of new testing options.”

The Health and Human Services Department has scheduled a call for reporters about the testing sites for 2 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blasted the move in a tweet that linked to the original article breaking news of the June 30 cutoff date, which was published by Talking Points Memo.

“Let me get this straight: Cases are spiking across the country,” wrote Schumer, who is the Senate minority leader.

“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!?”

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