It Could Be Harder to Get a Coronavirus Test Next Month in This State
Federal funding cuts are forcing COVID-19 swabbing sites to close at the end of June.
States around the country are scrambling to tackle the sudden increase in reported COVID-19 cases that have followed since they reopened. And as Americans start going out more and more, medical experts strongly urge people to get tested for coronavirus to help stop the spread of the disease. But a recent decision will make it more difficult to follow their advice in one of the largest states in the country. Due to federal funding cuts, 13 community-based coronavirus testing sites will shutter at the end of June—with more than half of them in Texas.
The closures come at the behest of the federal government, which is planning to move resources to other parts of the country. "We are not withdrawing federal support [for coronavirus testing]," Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration's testing czar, told reporters during a call on Wednesday, according to CNBC. "We are providing federal support in a different way." Giroir outlined how hundreds of other testing locations are conducting federally funded COVID-19 tests.
While the closures will affect testing sites in Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois, the news hits the Lone Star state particularly hard. Texas has posted record-breaking numbers of hospitalizations for 12 straight days and Gov. Greg Abbott urged citizens to not leave their homes as of Tuesday due to surging cases.
The funding cuts saw significant pushback from both of Texas' senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, who are both Republicans. "I know there's concern, concern I share, over some of the statements being made about withdrawing federal support for coronavirus testing in Texas at the end of June," Cornyn told CNBC on Wednesday. "It's pretty clear to me, and I think it's clear to all of us, that with the uptick of cases, now is not a time to retreat from our vigilance in testing."
Health officials roundly criticized the move as poorly timed when states need funding the most. "Testing is absolutely essential to everything from diagnosis and treatment to management of the epidemic itself," Gary Slutkin, MD, a former WHO epidemiologist, told Talking Points Memo. "The withholding of this essential tool for controlling this problem is cruel—it inhibits the ability of a country or a city or a community or a person or healthcare provider to know what to do." And for more on COVID-19 testing, check out Your Coronavirus Test Results Are Definitely Wrong If You Made This Mistake.