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Trump administration extends support for Texas COVID-19 testing sites

Trump administration extends support for Texas COVID-19 testing sites
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Sunday that the federal government had agreed to extend support for coronavirus testing sites in Dallas and Houston after an initial plan to discontinue funding received bipartisan pushback.

"The State of Texas is committed to providing ample testing resources as we work to contain the recent surge in COVID-19 cases," Abbott said in a statement. "Our continued collaboration with our federal partners is essential to our efforts. The extension of this program in Dallas and Houston will help secure more testing for Texans in these communities.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will continue to fund community-based testing sites in the two cities through July 31, the department’s second program extension after a previous one in late June.

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Abbott said there were more than 900 total testing sites across the state and urged Texans to get tested as case numbers have risen dramatically this month, hitting a peak of 10,909 daily cases on July 9, according to the New York Times’s database.

Federal support for testing in Texas was previously in jeopardy when the Trump administration in late June said it would stop directly funding 13 testing sites, including seven in Texas, and transfer the sites to state control. Politicians including Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn says election outcome 'becoming increasingly clear': report Top GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results MORE (R-Texas) and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) urged continued federal support for testing.

David Persse, the head of Houston’s health department, sent a letter to Deputy Surgeon General Erica Schwartz in June calling for an extension of federal funding through the end of August, warning that a loss of federal support would have “catastrophic consequences.”

Abbott has communicated with Vice President Pence regarding acquiring federal resources for Texas. In a press release last Friday, he said the Department of Defense will deploy an Urban Area Medical Task Force to the state Monday. He also announced a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from HHS had already arrived.