June 23, 2020
After admitting at his Tulsa rally that he had asked staff “to slow down COVID-19 testing” to make it look like America had fewer cases, President Donald Trump on June 22 refused to comment on that revelation—backtracking on his off-the-cuff remark, The Hill reported.
What’s more, on Monday, there was more embarrassing and scandalous news for the Trump Administration—which NBC News noted, “… has been sitting on nearly $14 billion in funding that Congress passed for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, according to Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Patty Murray of Washington.”
The top Democrats said in a June 21 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that the Trump administration has “still failed” to distribute more than $8 billion out of $25 billion appropriated by Congress to expand testing and contact tracing. The letter indicated that Congress passed these funds as part of a coronavirus relief bill in April.05:02
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also hasn’t awarded nearly $4 billion for surveillance and contact tracing at the state and local levels and tribal territories, they said, and little of $2 billion set aside for free testing for uninsured people has been disbursed.
“While it has been months since these funds were first appropriated, the Administration has failed to disburse significant amounts of this funding, leaving communities without the resources they need to address the significant challenges presented by the virus,” they wrote.
Schumer and Murray, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said that the Trump administration will “put our country at grave risk if it tries to declare an early victory” and leaves resources untouched.
“We call on you to immediately disburse the remainder of the $25 billion in funds to ramp up testing and contact tracing capacity, as well as to make sure providers are aware of and able to easily access the $2 billion that Congress appropriated to provide testing for the uninsured,” they said.
For the $8 billion in unused funds for ramping up testing and contact tracing, the senators said that it’s critical that the administration immediately release the funds and focus the money on contact tracing and collecting data on racial and ethnic disparities in connection to COVID-19.
Late Sunday, Trump again suggested that more testing makes the U.S. look bad compared to other countries, NBC News reported..
“Our Coronavirus testing is so much greater (25 million tests) and so much more advanced, that it makes us look like we have more cases, especially proportionally, than other countries. My message on that is very clear!” he tweeted.
Research contact: @NBCNews