CDC Removes Religious Guidance from Reopening Guidelines

They also lay out an extensive blueprint for containing the disease at federal and state levels through contact tracing and monitoring for outbreaks.
Two people in protective workwear cleaning and disinfecting offices.

The CDC this week quietly published detailed guidelines for reopening schools and businesses that have been shut down in the coronavirus pandemic.

What We Know:

  • The 60-page document is the most extensive guidance yet offered by the health agency, which has spent weeks embroiled in controversy over how far it should go in influencing institutions’ decisions about how to open safely.
  • The document includes specific guidelines for reopening childcare centers, schools, businesses, restaurants, and public transit. Among the additions is more detailed advice for mass transit that suggests encouraging social distancing by adding floor decals or colored tape to ensure people remain six feet apart.
  • Most states have yet to meet much of the basic criteria for reopening originally set out by the White House, including showing a 14-day decline in coronavirus cases and recording a significant ramp up in testing.
  • Both state and federal officials have struggled to collect consistent data on the virus’ spread, further complicating efforts to coordinate a nationwide response. And while testing overall has surged over the past week, several states well into their reopening have yet to hit their own testing targets.
  • The Trump administration has encouraged a swift reopening of the U.S. over concerns about the economic toll of a month’s long lockdown, handling much of the responsibility for managing the public health response to individual states.
  • The White House initially ordered the CDC to revise an earlier draft of the reopening guidelines over worries it was “too prescriptive,” sparking concerns within the public health community about whether the Trump administration was sidelining the federal government’s health experts.
  • That version was subsequently updated, a CDC spokesperson told POLITICO, and the current, fuller guidance was published on Sunday. The agency did not issue a press release on it.
  • This official said the guidelines needed to be broader – giving the example of “no one should share a cup” versus “don’t share a Communion cup”.
  • Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil at HHS, told CNN last week that the agency does not comment on internal deliberations.
  • A CNN review last week found that the guidelines in the original version were far stricter and more detailed than the White House’s own road map toward a return to normal. Based on the original guidance, “no one who is reopening meets the criteria for reopening,” a senior CDC official told CNN at the time.

Senior CDC official, Dr. Deborah Birx has become increasingly critical of the CDC, making clear in recent meetings that she is more than frustrated with the agency, according to two senior administration officials. Specifically, Birx believes the way the CDC gathers data on the coronavirus is antiquated, causing inaccurate and delayed numbers on both virus cases and deaths.

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Dominique Browder is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo.

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