After bipartisan pushback, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has decided to keep funding five of its seven community-based coronavirus testing sites in Texas, granting a two-week extension to the sites that had been scheduled for closure at the end of the month.
According to a department statement, the extension is in response to requests from state leaders. State, local and federal elected officials from Texas had urged the Trump administration to keep the sites open as cases surge in the state.
This reversal follows another record-breaking day in Texas of new cases on Thursday. The state reported another 5,996 positive tests and hospitalizations reached 4,739. The hospitalizations number set a record for the 14th straight day.
The department didn’t specify which of the sites will remain open and which will close. The seven sites are in Houston, Dallas and El Paso. Federal officials said they will also provide additional resources to help transition the five sites to becoming fully state run, according to the statement.
“These federally-supported testing sites are a vital component of this commitment,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement announcing the move. “I thank our federal partners for extending these operations in Texas, and for their flexibility in allocating their resources to the communities of Dallas and Houston that are experiencing a high number of COVID-19 cases right now.”
On Friday, Abbott took a step back from the plan to reopen Texas, closing bars again and reducing restaurant capacity from 75% to 50%, among other actions.