DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With Covid-19 cases rising in Dallas County, Judge Clay Jenkins said Wednesday, he and Mayor Eric Johnson have asked the Trump administration to reconsider the decision to end federal funding for its community testing sites after June 30 and instead, to extend it, as it has done before.
“We really can’t afford to lose any of our resources right now.”
Mayor Johnson wrote HHS Secretary Alex Azar June 17 asking not only for the extension, but an increase in testing capacity.
“I make these requests because it is critical to increase testing capacity as Dallas faces a sharp increase in new Covid-19 cases and related hospitalizations.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Texas Senator John Cornyn agreed and said the federal funding should be extended for the two sites in Dallas and five others across the state.
“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 a time to retreat from our vigilance in testing. I believe that they need to extend that federal support in Texas, at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed.”
Because the administration previously indicated it wouldn’t continue funding, Dallas County and the City of Dallas struck a partnership to spend $20 million to continue testing at the community sites.
Regardless of the federal government’s decision, Judge Jenkins said the locations for the drive-up community sites at the American Airlines Center and the Ellis Davis Field House in south Dallas will be changing sometime after July 1st.
The Judge said the University of Dallas in Irving will host one drive-up site and the other drive-up site will be in S. Dallas, possibly at the Red Bird Mall.
Jenkins also said he and Republican North Texas Congressman Michael Burgess, a doctor, have asked the federal government to provide chemical reagents so the county could process more Covid-19 tests at its labs at both Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern.
“If they did that, that would allow us to do as many tests as we’ve done now, but to get a faster turn around and to get more flexibility on who we test and when.”
Jenkins said that would boost testing capability even further, which has recently increased to more than 1500 tests each day at the community sites. “So if we can get the reagents that we need to fully maximize those tests, it could be thousands more a day.”
Governor Abbott told CBS 11 Tuesday that the state is working on its own plan that would add testing and that he should be able to announce it within the next week.