The CDC released previously withheld guidance documents on reopening schools, restaurants, and other institutions locked down during the pandemic, one week after the White House ordered the agency to revise an earlier draft it deemed “too prescriptive”.
What We Know:
- The new CDC guidelines provide brief checklists meant to help key businesses and others operating in public reopen safely. In separate one-page documents, the CDC offers decision-making tools for schools, workplaces, camps, child care programs, mass transit systems, bars and restaurants.
- The White House had rejected at least two prior CDC drafts providing more detailed recommendations for reopening, according to documents published by the Associated Press in the previous week. A White House spokesperson last week said the administration requested changes because draft agency guidance didn’t comport with President Donald Trump’s strategy of putting states in charge of reopening decisions.
- The new guidance comes as dozens of governors, to varying degrees, have begun easing restrictions on businesses and social activities, and Trump urges them to move faster, even as his health officials warn against moving too quickly. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Tuesday warned that reopening the country too early could yield “really serious” consequences if states don’t have the capacity to respond to new infections.
- The CDC said its newly released tools are meant to give state and local areas control over their reopening strategies. In many instances, they are shorter and less specific than previously reported drafts.
- The new guidance doesn’t explicitly refer to the Trump administration’s previous guidance for reopening the country in phases after hitting prescribed benchmarks. Many states have begun reopening without seeing a sustained decline in coronavirus cases, one of the key grading criteria previously outlined by the Trump administration. Public health experts have disputed the notion that pockets of the country are ready to completely reopen their businesses and economies.
- The Trump administration has also been criticized by Democrats who argue the administration is sidelining the CDC, which for decades has taken a leading role in communicating to the public during public health crises. On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tried and failed to pass a resolution by unanimous consent that would have called for the immediate release of the more detailed CDC guidelines.
“The point is that America needs and must have the candid guidance of our best scientists unfiltered, unedited, uncensored by President Trump or his political minions,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “The CDC report on reopening the country is an important piece of that guidance.”