Feds Set To Cut Coronavirus Testing Funds As COVID-19 Cases Soar

COVID-19 test centers in five states are expected to lose federal funding next week after the Trump administration decided not to renew the program it was set up with.
As a result, 13 test sites in Colorado (1), Illinois (2), New Jersey (2), Pennsylvania (1) and Texas (7) are likely to be closed if these countries fail to replace the required funds.
In a statement to HuffPost, deputy health minister Brett Giroir confirmed that the program, which originally funded 41 such sites in 48 countries, would end next week.
Giroir said this was part of a planned transition to "more efficient and effective test sites," and noted that the original end date had already been changed.
"All 13 locations were given an additional 30 days from the original May transition date," said Giroir, "and I spoke personally to governors from all five participating countries and / or their leaders who agreed that this was the right time." Transition from the original 13 locations to thousands of new testing options. "
In a follow-up call to the media on Wednesday afternoon, Giroir emphasized that the fate of these locations - which make up a small portion of the total testing capacity across the country - is left to the states, which they can manage or close at their discretion.
"The federal government has just sent $ 11 billion to states and tribes to support their state and local test plans," he said. "There is no reason why a locally unresponsive, bulky, parallel system has to be created if the states would like to take over."
The decision is still under review as new coronavirus infections occur across the country. More than half of all states have now seen an increase in cases, and more than a dozen states have recently recorded a record number of infections - including Texas, which is home to seven of the test sites that are said to lose funding.
"It is pretty clear to me, and I think it is clear to all of us that given the increase in cases, it is not time to withdraw from our vigilance in testing," said Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) in a statement distances itself from the decision.
While testing capacity in the United States has grown steadily since states began implementing home stay orders in March, it is well behind a number of other countries in terms of the number of tests performed per infection found. According to Johns Hopkins University, this is an important measure for deciding whether it is safe to relax social distance restrictions.
"The positivity rate is an important indicator because it can tell whether a community is running enough tests to find cases," said Johns Hopkins on his website. "If a community's positivity is high, it indicates that the community may be testing mostly the sickest patients and possibly missing milder or asymptomatic cases."
By June 22, one out of twelve tests conducted in the U.S. had been positive, according to Oxford University's Our World in Data. In South Korea, which has long been the world leader in testing, 93 tests were carried out for each positive case. And in New Zealand, where the coronavirus has been effectively eliminated, the ratio is 300 to 1.
Despite the ongoing and ongoing test deficit, President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the COVID-19 tests to be slowed down this week as the rise in new cases they reveal makes his government's response look bad.
"Cases are increasing in the US because we are testing and expanding much more than any other country," he tweeted on Tuesday. "With smaller tests, we would show fewer cases!"
The White House claimed that Trump was "joking" and that his comments were "joking". When asked whether he was actually joking when he made such comments, he said to a CBS reporter, "I am not a child."
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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