Trump to end federal support for coronavirus testing locations

Even though White House staffers told the press he was joking, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed it will stop funding at least 13 testing sites

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US President Donald Trump holds up swabs as he speaks at the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Last weekend, President Donald Trump told the sparse audience at his Tulsa, Oklahoma rally that testing for coronavirus was “a double-edged sword.” He said, “I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down please.”

White House staff members told reporters that the president was joking.

However, he later said, “I don’t kid, let me just tell you, let me make it clear,” the president said, “by having more tests, we have more cases.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations on the rise in California, Arizona and Texas

To further reiterate his point, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Wednesday it will no longer fund 13 testing sites across the country. Including seven sites in Texas which is experiencing a record high number of positive cases of coronavirus.

“We are transitioning 13 sites from the original now antiquated program to the more efficient and effective testing sites,” Coronavirus czar, Brett Giroir said in an emailed statement to Politico. He argued the government is still supporting increased testing capacity through a federal bundled payment program for retail pharmacies setting up testing sites.

A patient is tested for coronavirus at a testing site in the Anacostia neighborhood June 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Community-Based Testing Sites program was scheduled to return to local control in April, but the Trump administration extended federal support after pushback from local lawmakers. The administration was clear that it would be a one-time extension only.

However, both Republicans and Democrats are protesting the end of the program.

READ MORE: Biden takes significant lead ahead of Trump in national poll

Republican Texas senator, John Cornyn, said, “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 the time to retreat from our vigilance in testing.”

Cornyn said. “I believe that they need to extend that federal support in Texas, at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed.”

According to CNN, the president’s decision to end testing has prompted a renewed focus by the Joe Biden campaign to push for protections of the Affordable Care Act. The Biden campaign aims to point out the benefits of Obamacare for Black and brown Americans.