TEXAS, USA — The Trump administration announced they will end federal funding for seven community-based coronavirus testing sites in Texas by the end of June, NBC News is reporting. The shift in funding comes after the White House walked back President Trump's comments on a move to "slow the (coronavirus) testing down" during a rally Saturday in Tulsa.
The testing sites will remain open under state and local control, but the move by the White House comes as Texas deals with an historic surge in COVID-19 cases. And the closures could create funding issues, health officials warned.
Six other sites in Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania are also being impacted, NBC News reports.
President Trump's testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir said that the administration is not withdrawing federal support but is instead providing it in a different way.
“We are going to increase testing, both in the number and the quality, and in the targeting on social media," Giroir said.
Still, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is urging health officials to extend the community testing sites, his spokesman told NBC News.
In April, the Trump administration announced it would discontinue federal support for the community testing sites, but the decision was delayed several months after resistance from lawmakers.
Four of the testing sites set to lose the federal funding are located in hard-hit Harris County and Houston. The city is on the verge of a "crisis", local health officials warned this week. 97% of ICU beds at Texas Medical Center are now occupied with COVID-19 cases.
Houston's health department said the lack of support could cause "catastrophic cascading consequences".
The other two sites are located in Dallas and El Paso.
Cases across Texas have climbed to daily highs nearly everyday since Memorial Day. On Tuesday, the state saw 5,489 new coronavirus cases. That's the highest number recorded since the pandemic began. There are also 4,092 Texans in the hospital, it's the 12th consecutive day a new record for hospitalizations has been set.
Giroir said that he has spoken with Gov. Greg Abbott's office and they "agreed that it was the appropriate time to transition out of the original 13 sites and into the thousands of new testing options."