Posts tagged with "New Jersey"

Trump Administration cuts off funding to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in five states

June 25, 2020

The Trump Administration is doing its level best to close—or at the very least, slow down—coronavirus testing nationwide by cutting off support to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites on June 30; and leaving operation and funding of those sites to the states—even as cases spike in several parts of the country, Politico reports.

This is not the first time that the Administration has tried to offload control of the drive-thru sites to the states—but the last effort was suspended in April when governors in the states affected objected strongly.

The 13 sites—in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas—are the last federally run sites out of 41 originally established across the country. Seven sites are in hard-hit Texas, where cases are climbing.

Taking the offensive on Thursday, June 24, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir told Roll Call that the sites were always meant to be a temporary solution as the country worked to ramp up testing capacity in traditional health care settings.

What he didn’t mention was that, with a looming election challenge, Trump has seen the pandemic as a drag on the economy that he simply wants to go away.

Indeed, in early March, the president transferred responsibility for flattening the line on the coronavirus pandemic to the states—and, specifically, to the governors. He will neither wear a mask nor recommend one; and he has been unwilling to release nearly $14B in Congressional funding for testing and tracing efforts to combat COVID-19. However, he continues to brag that his pandemic effort is the best ever executed.

Already protesters are piling on: Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, tells Politico that it’s not the right time to shift responsibility for the sites to the states—especially those near emerging hot spots in Texas

“The federally supported testing sites remain critically needed, and in some place like Houston and Harris County, TX and in other hotspots, are needed now more than ever,” Becker said in an email. “This is not the time for the federal government to walk back prior commitments on testing.”

Even Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) is critical of the plan, noting,. “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 the time to retreat from our vigilance in testing,” he said. “I believe that they need to extend that federal support in Texas, at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed.”

So what will be the outcome? HHS says there is no going back: Gigroir recommends that the state governors can use CARES Act funding to maintain operations at the current federally supported testing sites.

Research contact: @politico

Blue wave or bust? Today’s primaries may provide some perspective

June 5, 2018

California is not the only state holding primaries today although it has gotten the lion’s share of newsprint and posts on the subject. In fact, nationwide, June 5 will be the closest thing we get to a Super Tuesday in a non-presidential-election year, the news site FiveThirtyEight points out this week.

The following three states will hold primaries—and FiveThirtyEight has given us a heads-up on which races to watch:·

  • Alabama (2nd Congressional District): Republican Representative Martha Roby could become the next congressional incumbent to lose a primary this cycle. She put a target on her back, FiveThirtyEight believes, when she announced she would not support Donald Trump in the aftermath of the “Access Hollywood” tape scandal in 2016. Furious Trump supporters waged a write-in campaign against her that dramatically cut down her margin of victory—and they still view her as a turncoat. While her two Democratic opponents may not beat her in the primary, all they need to do is keep her from winning more than 50% of the vote, which would force a one-on-one runoff in July. This race could tell us a lot about the importance of absolute loyalty to Trump in today’s GOP.
  • Mississippi (3rd Congressional District): No matter who wins this  six-way Republican primary, the open seat is unlikely to figure in November’s battle for House control. The 3rd District is 26 percentage points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole, FiveThirtyEight says, so there will be no drama.
  • New Jersey (S. Senate; 2nd, 5th, 7th and 11th Congressional Districts): With five of its 12 congressional districts expected to be competitive in November, New Jersey is one of a handful of blue states that, alone, have enough vulnerable Republican seats that they could decide which party controls the House next year, FiveThirtyEight says. We all should be watching these results closely.

What’s more, the Senate race will be a cliffhanger: Incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Menendez was “severely admonished” in April by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting gifts from a wealthy friend, after a multiyear corruption scandal that ultimately ended with a mistrial and the government’s decision not to retry him. Although state Democrats have stuck by Menendez as he faces re-election, his legal trouble has left him unpopular with New Jersey voters. Menendez faces one challenger in the Democratic primary, Lisa McCormick, and her performance on Tuesday indicate whether New Jerseyans want to move on from Menendez’s scandal—or from Menendez, himself. Given New Jersey’s D+12 partisan lean, the Democratic winner will be heavily favored over the Republican nominee, who is likely to be wealthy former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin. Hugin has been campaigning on the platform that he will not bow to the whims of the current president, if he wins the job—but will concentrate on serving his constituency.

Research contact: @baseballot