Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites as Cases Spike Across U.S.

Politics
Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites as Cases Spike Across U.S.
Medical personnel from Riverside (CA) University Health Systems administer a coronavirus test during drive-through testing on March 22, 2020 in Lake Elsinore, California. Bob Riha, Jr. / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

As Covid-19 cases continue to spike across the U.S.—the nation on Wednesday saw its largest daily increase in confirmed new infections since the pandemic began—the Trump administration is reportedly planning to cut off federal funding for 13 coronavirus testing sites in five states at the end of the month, a move that is in keeping with the president's vow to slow screenings for the virus.


Politico reported Wednesday that "the federal government is ending its support for 13 drive-thru coronavirus testing sites on June 30, urging states to take over their operations—even as cases spike in several parts of the country."

Seven of the sites set to lose federal funding and support are located in Texas, which has seen new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations skyrocket during the reopening process—a spike that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott predicted last month in a private call that leaked to reporters. Texas was one of six states that saw a record increase in new infections on Wednesday.

The other testing sites that will lose federal support next week are located in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Texas lawmakers reacted with alarm to the administration's plan, which was reported days after President Donald Trump said during a weekend rally in Oklahoma that he ordered a slowdown in coronavirus testing. White House officials claimed Trump's comments were made "in jest," but the president on Tuesday doubled down and told reporters that he was not joking.

"Texas continues to set records for the number of new cases and hospitalizations and Harris County leads the state in number of confirmed cases," Texas Democratic Reps. Sylvia Garcia, Al Green, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, and Sheila Jackson Lee wrote in letters this week to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Pete Gaynor.

"Without FEMA's supplies, fiscal aid, and personnel, these sites may no longer be able to serve our communities," the lawmakers warned. "FEMA's removal in this moment would be harmful and irresponsible. We urgently ask you to extend FEMA's presence at these testing sites through August 30, 2020."

Rocky Vaz, the director of emergency management for Dallas, told Talking Points Memo that the city asked for an extension of federal support for two testing sites in Dallas County but was denied by the Trump administration.

"They told us very clearly that they are not going to extend it," Vaz said. "We are not expecting it to continue beyond June 30, but things change."

On several occasions in recent weeks, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have falsely claimed that the recent surge in Covid-19 cases is the result of an expansion of testing rather than an actual spread of the virus. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, Trump said coronavirus testing is "overrated" and "makes us look bad."

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, demanded in a statement Wednesday that Trump immediately reverse the plan to end federal support for testing sites. On Sunday, as Common Dreams reported, Murray slammed the Trump administration for failing to spend $14 billion appropriated by Congress to expand coronavirus testing and tracing.

"The pandemic is clearly getting worse in states nationwide—and instead of trying harder to stop it, President Trump is apparently trying harder to hide it," said Murray. "It's completely unacceptable that while billions in federal dollars Congress passed to support testing sit unspent, this administration is closing testing sites in states where new Covid-19 cases are rapidly on the rise."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) echoed Murray and urged Congress to intervene to ensure that the testing sites remain open and at full capacity.

"Donald Trump can't run from the facts: Covid-19 cases are still increasing and Americans are still dying," Warren tweeted. "This is unacceptable—and Congress must act immediately to counter this reckless and inhumane measure."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

Fridays for Future climate activists demonstrate in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 25, 2020. Roberto Pfeil / picture alliance via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species that can reach four-feet long. Mark Newman / Getty Images

These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Smoke covers the skies over downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 9, 2020. Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire

By Isabella Garcia

September in Portland, Oregon, usually brings a slight chill to the air and an orange tinge to the leaves. This year, it brought smoke so thick it burned your throat and made your eyes strain to see more than 20 feet in front of you.

Read More Show Less
A rare rusty-spotted cat is spotted in the wild in 2015. David V. Raju / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

Misunderstanding the needs of how to protect three rare cat species in Southeast Asia may be a driving factor in their extinction, according to a recent study.

Read More Show Less
Cyclone Gati on Sunday had sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. NASA - EOSDIS Worldview

Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia Sunday as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, the first time that a hurricane-strength storm has made landfall in the East African country, NPR reported.

Read More Show Less