Story at a glance

  • The screening locations are the remnants of a larger federal testing program put in place early on in the pandemic.
  • The move comes at a time when more than a dozen states are experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, including Texas.
  • Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, however, said Wednesday that even though the government will stop directly funding the testing sites, the amount of testing will not decrease and the sites should not lose resources.

As the United States on Wednesday set a new single-day record for coronavirus cases, the Trump administration is moving to end its support for 13 drive-thru coronavirus testing sites on June 30, pushing states to take over the operations. 

The screening locations are the remnants of a larger federal testing program put in place early on in the pandemic, and are located in Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Colorado and Pennsylvania. 


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The move comes at a time when more than a dozen states are experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, including Texas, where increases in cases and hospitalizations have hit record highs. The situation in the state prompted the governor Thursday to hit pause on reopening


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At least seven of the sites are in Texas, with four sites in Houston and Harris County, which health experts say could become the hardest-hit area in the country. 

Officials in Texas have requested an extension for continued federal support for the sites, requesting the funding for these testing locations be extended until Aug. 30. 

“Losing the support of the Federal government for testing sites will undoubtedly have catastrophic cascading consequences in the region’s ability to adequately test, quarantine, and isolate, ultimately blunting the progression of COVID-19,” David Persse, public health authority for the Houston Health Department, wrote in a letter to the Surgeon General’s office. 

Two of the federally operated testing sites in Houston have helped screen an estimated 60,000 people, Business Insider reports

Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, however, said Wednesday that even though the government will stop directly funding the testing sites, the amount of testing will not decrease and the sites should not lose resources. 

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

But the move was criticized by some lawmakers, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R). 

“It’s pretty clear to me, and I think it’s clear to all of us, that with the uptick in cases, now is not the time to retreat from our vigilance in testing,” he 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.”


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Published on Jun 25, 2020