We Don't Have Enough COVID-19 Testing. So Trump Is Pulling Funding For Testing Sites.
With the coronavirus pandemic not yet at its peak in most parts of the country, and testing still lagging far short of what's needed, the federal government is ending funding for a program that helped state and local governments run testing sites. That will result in closures of those testing sites in several places, NPR reports. The federal funding for Community-Based Testing Sites (CBTS) ends tomorrow, April 10, because the program was seen as a temporary measure to get some testing going at 41 sites funded by Health and Human Services and FEMA, while states ramped up their own testing programs. But while more testing is available at hospitals and elsewhere now, it seems fucknuts insane to be shutting down any testing programs at all.
Then again, as we keep reminding you, we no longer have a federal government anyway, so there's your problem. As Dear Leader said, it's not the federal government's job to "stand on street corners doing testing," so it's up to the states, just like how the states handled fighting World War II with occasional backup from the feds.
In the Philadelphia area, the withdrawal of federal funding will mean the closure of two community testing sites: one in South Philadelphia, another in Montgomery County, in the suburb of Upper Dublin Township. They seemed to be doing a fairly good job, but they gotta go, because no more money from the feds, and the state doesn't have the funds to keep the sites open. Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, said the drive-through testing site in her county had been
"a very successful site. We are hoping by the time it closes Friday afternoon that we will have tested a little over 5,000 individuals" [...]
Montgomery County has been hit hard by the pandemic. By Tuesday the county identified 1,294 positive cases and reported 32 COVID-19-related deaths.
Arkoosh says local officials staffed the site and the federal government provided much-needed testing supplies and access to a lab. "This site came with a contract with LabCorp, who accepted 250 samples from this site every day," and she says the county is not able to secure the supplies and tests on its own.
So why axe funding for sites that had been meeting a need? Duh, it's because the federal government doesn't think it has any business sticking a swab up your nose or down your throat, because now we live in Articles of Confederation times, and besides, look at all the beautiful buzzwords!
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells NPR, "Many of the Community-Based Testing Sites (CBTS) are not closing, but rather transitioning to state-managed sites on or about April 10" [...]
"The transition will ensure each state has the flexibility and autonomy to manage and operate testing sites within the needs of their specific community and to prioritize resources where they are needed the most," the HHS spokesperson said.
Flexibility! Autonomy! Meet the needs of your specific community! In other words, NOT OUR PROBLEM YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
A FEMA spokesperson offered an even more typically Trumpian bit of bafflegab to a local reporter, explaining that
Transitioning fully to state-managed operation creates an opportunity for the states to better serve their own communities, while leveraging federal support to augment their state's success.
That sounds a lot like how Trump's proposed cuts to Medicaid were framed as a "Healthy Adult Opportunity."
FEMA has also justified the end of the CBTS program funding because the FDA has approved new self-administered nasal swab kits that people can use, although it's worth noting that the feds don't appear to have provided all the resources needed for those such kits to do any good, at least not in Montgomery County, which
does not have [its] own testing supplies at this point, and the self-administered nasal swab tests must still be sent away to a lab.
It's not clear when, or if, the county will obtain the self-administered tests.
Such an opportunity!
Also, with sites shutting down in Pennsylvania and in Colorado Springs, Colorado, you sort of have to wonder what sort of finagling may have led to a federal decision to continue CBTS funding for two drive-through testing sites in Dallas, Texas, at least through the end of April. Dallas TV station KTVT reports that Dallas County officials somehow got the feds to agree to extend the funding, although the story mostly focuses on delays in getting results back, not on how exactly the county managed to get the extension. Probably just better negotiating skills!
In other news, it is not paranoid or cynical to note that these "opportunities" are coming as the president says anything under 200,000 deaths is a "terrific job" and Fox News is working overtime to suggest that even people who die with a positive test for COVID-19 are probably padding the numbers because they were probably sick with other stuff anyway — let alone people dying in their homes (hundreds more a day in New York City than in any previous March) without a test.
In fact, it's not cynical enough.
[NPR / New York / Patch / WHYY / KTVT-TV / Image: Video screenshot via Voice of America ]
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