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A volunteer holds a specimen bag while conducting drive-through coronavirus testing at Malibu City Hall on April 8, 2020.

A volunteer holds a specimen bag while conducting drive-through coronavirus testing at Malibu City Hall on April 8, 2020. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Ocasio-Cortez Decries Trump Halt to Federal Funding of Coronavirus Testing as 'Completely Irresponsible' Amid Pandemic

"If anything, we should err on the side of testing 'too much'—we're *nowhere* near that."

Eoin Higgins

Rep. Alexandria Coasio-Cortez slammed the Trump administration on Thursday in the wake of reporting that it will end federal funding for coronavirus testing sites around the country, reducing the number of places Americans can get checked for the deadly disease that has already infected at least 438,449 and killed 15,735 in the country. 

The New York Democrat called the move "completely irresponsible."

"If anything, we should err on the side of testing 'too much,'" said Ocasio-Cortez, "we're *nowhere* near that."

The decision by President Donald Trump's administration to cease funding the Community-Based Testing Sites program was met with concern in states without the resources and internal funding mechanisms to handle continued testing for the virus at the level required.

As GQ reported, testing could help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, but that doesn't seem to be Trump's top priority:

Widespread testing—a critical tool in fighting a pandemic—is still one of the biggest problems the country faces. But instead of expanded testing, the White House is taking the opposite approach. On Friday, the federal government will cut support for testing sites nationwide, forcing many cities and states to shut down some sites, according to NPR.

New York magazine's Matt Stieb noted that the president's main focus appears to be restarting the economy as soon as possible after the pandemic's peak. Such a move would require an aggressive public health initiative to test and track the virus, wrote Stieb, but that does not appear to be the strategy. 

According to Stieb:

Instead of pursuing such a plan that is in line with its political goals, the White House will end federal support for coronavirus-testing sites on Friday, days before the crisis is expected to peak in the middle of next week. While the program providing resources was intended to serve as a stopgap measure, states have relied on it to help prop up their own testing efforts in the absence of a national coordinated testing strategy.

News of the funding shutdown was met with criticism from other progressives, including California state Senate hopeful Dave Min, who said on Twitter that the administration move "will worsen this pandemic" and bemoande the lack of leadership coming from Washington.

"What this crisis is making clear is that we need smart and competent people in the White House," said Min. "Trump and his merry band of idiots just don't cut it."

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