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WASHINGTON -- The Trump Administration plans to end federal funding for 13 coronavirus test sites in five states (Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania), according to news reports. Local and state officials are making it clear that this move would hinder their ability to tackle and contain COVID-19 outbreaks. The reported decision comes on the heels of both President Donald Trump’s recent statements calling for a slowdown of testing, and a nationwide rise in COVID-19 cases.
In particular, Texas, with seven testing sites on the chopping block, would be hit hard by the policy shift -- just as it is experiencing an uptick in cases. The state recently experienced more than 5,000 new cases in a single day and is also seeing a rise in the positivity rate of tests.
U.S. PIRG Public Health Campaigns Director Matthew Wellington issued the following statement in response to the announcement:
“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in several states. In some places we’re seeing record highs.
“At this moment the nation needs to be using every tool in our toolbox to help local officials and health care workers contain any new outbreaks of the virus. Instead, it seems like we’re being told to pretend there is no virus, and when states do try to fight it, they should tie one hand behind their backs.
“Public health officials have been clear that a comprehensive testing system, where we can quickly diagnose anyone with COVID-19 and then track and isolate the spread of the coronavirus, is key to stopping it. . Such a system demands a nationally coordinated testing strategy. The federal government needs to bring more resources and testing capacity to the states -- not less.”
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