June 23, 2020

The Trump administration is withdrawing federal funding and support for COVID-19 testing sites around the country even as the pandemic surges.

Despite the White House attempts to claim Donald Trump was joking when he boasted about telling "my people" to slow down coronavirus testing in order to have viewer cases, we now see at least one way he'll likely get it done.

From TPM Muckraker:

The federal government will stop providing money and support for 13 sites across five states which were originally set up in the first months of the pandemic to speed up testing at the local level.

Texas will be particularly hard hit by the decision. The federal government gives much-needed testing kits and laboratory access to seven testing sites around Texas. But in the state, which is seeing new peaks in cases, people still face long lines for testing that continues to fail to meet overwhelming demand.

Given Trump’s near tie with Biden in Texas, a state Trump won by 9 points in 2016, you’d think he would be reluctant to screw Lone Star State voters at a time like this. But the federal government reportedly refused a request by Dallas’ director of emergency management, Rocky Vaz, to extend its support beyond June 30.

The federal support not only provides help with testing, but also with finances during a time when American cities and states are grappling with economic woes that go with the pandemic. More from TPM:

The sites provide testing kits and laboratories, and notify patients of their results. The federal government covers costs, while providing staff and signing its own contracts with third-party vendors.

The aid for testing takes a financial burden off of cities and states already buckling under a budget crunch from the pandemic, while boosting testing capacity.

“The personnel, the site, the tents, the generators, the kits, the lab work, the patient notification, all of that,” Vaz said, saying that the city of Dallas would end up paying between $130 and $150 per test once the federal help ends. Each site can perform 1,000 COVID tests per day.

I’m willing to bet that Dallas and the other localities affected will not be able to pick up all the slack from the federal government and likely cut back on testing. Chances are, they won’t be up and running on July 1, either.

Yesterday, Trump refused to say whether he had authorized a slowdown in testing. Today, he said, "I don't kid" when asked about it. On Twitter, he confirmed he thinks he’d look better with fewer tests.

Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci told a House panel that the White House coronavirus task force had never been directed to slow down testing, seemingly contradicting Trump.

Apparently, Trump has chosen another way to do it. And it's no joke.

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