Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are demanding that the Trump administration ditch its plan to end federal funding for 13 coronavirus testing sites, seven in Texas, which is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.
‘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,’ Cornyn said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
A spokesman for Cruz told NBC News that the senator ‘has urged and will continue to urge [health officials] to extend the community testing sites in Texas.’
Texas’ two Republican Sens. John Cornyn (left) and Ted Cruz (right) did not act kindly to the news that the federal government was ending funding for 13 coronavirus test sites, seven of which are in Texas, which is seeing a fresh spike on COVID-19 cases
Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Caputo lashed out at reporters on a phone call Wednesday suggesting they had blown out of proportion the story, as the testing centers will remain open, but be funded by state and local municipalities
Texas has seen a huge spike in COVID-19 cases with 5,551 new cases reported on Wednesday, leading the state’s Republican senators to break with the Trump White House on continued funding for seven testing sites
President Trump said at his Saturday rally that he had asked staff to ‘slow the testing down, please,’ in order to show fewer U.S.-based COVID-19 cases, leading to skepticism of the administration’s commitment to testing
Visitors wearing masks are photographed walking through downtown San Antonio, Texas, as the state is seeing a thousands of new cases of COVID-19 prompting worries from Texas officials
The left-leaning Talking Points Memo website originally broke the story noting that local officials in the areas impacted reacted with ‘a mixture of frustration, resignation, and horror’ upon hearing of the pull-out.
The administration has countered that the move is no big deal – that the testing sites will remain open, but be paid for by states and local municipalities.
Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Caputo blasted reporters in a phone call Wednesday, suggesting they made a way bigger deal about the federal government’s move than they should have.
‘The reason why we put this call together so quickly and why we have upwards of 75 reporters on this call is beacuse you’ve been spun up,’ said Caputo, accusing the journalists, according to CNBC.
‘Somebody has given you disinformation,’ he continued. ‘Do you understand? I’m old enough to remember it was considered dishonest to undermine public confidence in the public health system.’
‘That’s what the people who sput you on this story are trying to do,’ he yelled.
Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration’s Covid-19 testing czar, explained during Tuesday’s testimony on Capitol Hill and again with reporters on Wednesday that the federal government is simply restructuring how testing is being done.
‘We are not withdrawing federal support,’ Giroir said. ‘We are providing federal support in a different way.’
Giroir explained the testing sites in question were from ‘the original, now antiquated, program.’
But all eyes are on the Trump administration’s handling of testing in the aftermath of a controversial comment the president made at his Tulsa-based campaign rally Saturday night.
There, in front of a raucous crowd, Trump said he told his people to ‘slow the testing down, please,’ in order for the U.S. to have lower COVID-19 case numbers.
On Sunday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on CNN the president was simply being ‘tongue in cheek,’ and on Monday White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said he was speaking ‘in jest.’
But on Tuesday, Trump told reporters, ‘I don’t kid,’ and continued to push his claim that there are spikes in states – including Texas – because the country is performing more tests.
Both the World Health Organization and Dr. Anthony Fauci, testifying before Congress Tuesday, said that wasn’t true.
Fauci pointed out how the percentage of positive tests is going up, which means there’s so-called ‘community spread’ of the deadly virus.
Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday that the White House hadn’t spent $14 billion in allocated money on testing. He reacted to the news of the feds ending money for some testing sites with this tweet Wednesday morning
The administration was also taking heat for reportedly not spending all the money allocated in the CARES Act for testing.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate HELP Committee, put out a release Sunday claiming that $14 billion in the bill has gone unspent.
Schumer lashed out at the Trump administration on Wednesday in a tweet.
‘Let me get this straight: Cases are spiking across the country. The admin has $14 billion for testing and tracing that they haven’t spent. But President Trump thinks the right move is to pull federal support for testing out of hotspot areas!?’ Schumer said.
Caputo shouted that in the grand scheme of things the 13 testing sites, which will remain open, represent ‘less than one one-thousandth of the testing facilities in this nation.’
‘Less than one one-thousandth!’ he said, according to CNBC.
He demanded that reporters, ‘please report this accurately,’ and then yelled, ‘And this is on the record,’ before hanging up.