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Trump Admin Faces Opposition From GOP Senators Over Decision to Cut Back Funds for COVID-19 Testing Sites

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President Donald Trump’s administration is receiving push back from Republican senators after it was announced the federal government would cut back funding to COVID-19 testing sites.

In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “Now is not the time to end a program that is working and successfully increasing testing capacity — especially for underserved communities in the state.”

They added, “Due to the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in Texas, cities need additional time to prepare for the transition to state and local control of the testing sites.”

The senators’ letter comes after the Trump administration said on Wednesday that it would cease funding for 13 COVID-19 testing locations in Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

“Texas is currently experiencing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases. In the last two weeks, daily new cases, the overall positivity rate, and hospitalizations in Texas have all increased,” the senators added.

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Finally, they said, “Maintaining the CBTS sties is critical to Texas’ testing capacity. As the CBTS program is set to expire on June 30, I urge you to grant an extension of the program for the testing sites in Texas.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir defended the decision on Wednesday and called those testing locations, which were set up in the early days of the outbreak, “antiquated” and noted there are more coronavirus testing options available now. 

Giroir said he had spoken to the governors of the fives states where the testing sights are, and they agreed “it was the appropriate time to transition.”

The decision to cut back the funding comes after Trump said at his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that he told officials to “slow the testing down,” as IJR reported.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people. You’re going to find more cases,” he said. 

Despite Trump’s comments, members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force testified that Trump never told them to slow down coronavirus testing, as IJR reported

Instead, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “We’re going to be doing more testing.”

Additionally, the decision to cut the funding to those testing sights come as 33 states have reported an increase in coronavirus cases. And several states have reported their highest numbers of coronavirus hospitalizations since the beginning of the outbreak.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were roughly 2.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S and over 120,000 deaths. 

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