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Trump administration to end funding for 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites

The federal government will end funding for 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites, including seven in Texas, on June 30, instead of calling for states to take up funding and operation of the sites. File Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI
The federal government will end funding for 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites, including seven in Texas, on June 30, instead of calling for states to take up funding and operation of the sites. File Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI | License Photo

June 24 (UPI) -- The Trump administration is set to end federal support for 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites on June 30, calling on states to take over the operations.

The Health and Human Services Department said the sites are spread across five states, including seven in Texas. Trump administration testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir said they will remain open under state and local control.

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The other testing locations are in Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Giroir said the administration was not withdrawing federal support but instead "providing federal support in a different way."

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"We are transitioning 13 sites from the original, now antiquated, program to the more efficient and effective testing sites," he said.

The decision comes as Texas has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases, reporting 5,551 new cases on Wednesday and 5,489 the day before for a total of 125,921 positive cases reported in the state.

President Donald Trump has made repeated comments about how reducing testing would reduce the number of cases reported in the United States, although Giroir and other federal health officials denied that they had been directed by the president to conduct less testing in testimony before Congress on Tuesday.

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"We are going to increase testing, both in the number and the quality and in the targeting on social media," Giroir said Wednesday.

In April, the Federal Emergency Management Agency requested that states determine whether they would transition from federal coronavirus testing sites to state-run locations, a decision that faced pushback from lawmakers.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called on the administration to continue direct funding to he sites, saying he "has urged and will continue to urge [health officials] to extend the community testing sites in Texas."

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Fellow Texan senator, John Cornyn, agreed that the government should continue to provide federal support "at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed."

"It's pretty clear to me and I think it's clear to all of us, that with the uptick of cases, now is not a time to retreat from our vigilance in testing," said Cornyn.

Texas reported a record number of new coronavirus cases Wednesday -- 5,551.

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