UPDATED 6/24, 4:45 p.m. ET: Federal funding for 13 coronavirus testing sites will be cut off at the end of June, a.k.a. next week. Seven sites are in Texas, a flashpoint for spiking cases; the others are in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.
CNBC writes that it’s “part of a previously announced plan to extend financial support for COVID-19 testing across the nation by other means.”
“We are not withdrawing federal support” said Trump coronavirus team member Adm. Brett Giroir. “We are providing federal support in a different way. … We are going to increase testing, both in the number and the quality, and in the targeting on social media.”
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During Saturday’s infamous campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump said, “When you do testing to that extent you're going to find more people, you're going to find cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test. We got tests for people who don't know what's going on.”
In the following days, several members of the Trump administration tried to defend Trump’s remarks. After the rally, a White House official told CBS his comments were “in jest,” and on Monday, Mike Pence told U.S. governors that the President was making a “passing observation.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said that Trump’s comments were “tongue-in-cheek,” and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Face the Nation that he wasn’t aware of the President issuing a directive to curtail testing.
However, Trump told a different story on Tuesday, when asked if he was joking about his remarks. He replied, “I don’t kid.”
He then applauded the U.S. for administering millions of tests, but said that expanded test availability is a “double-edged sword.” He added, “One way, it shows you have cases, and in another way you find out where the cases are and you do a good job.”
Later on Tuesday, he took to Twitter, writing, “We did a great job on CoronaVirus, including the very early ban on China, Ventilator production, and Testing, which is by far the most, and best, in the World. We saved millions of U.S. lives.! Yet the Fake News refuses to acknowledge this in a positive way.”