Employees and customers wear protective masks at a restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, May 11. Photographer: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control published updated guidelines for reopening the country. The “decision tool” documents are intended for schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants. Guidelines for churches and religious facilities were included in the original report but were left out of the final published version.

Alongside the now-standard advice of handwashing, mask-wearing, and social distancing, there is an additional emphasis on liberal leave policies, vigilance for signs of illness, and establishing plans in case of sick employees.

Prior to Thursday’s release, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for the release of “candid guidance of our best scientists unfiltered, unedited, uncensored by President Trump or his political minions. […] The CDC report on reopening the country is an important piece of that guidance.” Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) barred Schumer from passing a resolution requesting the delivery of those guidelines.

The guidance was initially shelved by the White House last week pending revisions after the administration deemed the guidelines “overly prescriptive.” The Trump Administration previously disseminated broad guidelines on April 16. However, the specifics were left up to individual states. The current guidelines vary widely from state to state, with intentional room for interpretation.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

CDC posts more detailed guidelines for reopening country – Fox News – 5/15/2020
Earlier versions of the documents included detailed information for churches wanting to restart in-person services, with suggestions including maintaining distance between parishioners and limiting the size of gatherings. The faith-related guidance was taken out after the White House raised concerns about the recommended restrictions, according to government emails obtained by The Associated Press and a person inside the agency who didn’t have permission to talk with reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Emails: Trump nominee involved in shelving CDC virus guide – Associated Press – 5/14/2020
A former chemical industry executive nominated to be the nation’s top consumer safety watchdog was involved in sidelining detailed guidelines to help communities reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, internal government emails show. Now the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is questioning the role played by nominee Nancy Beck in the decision to shelve the guidelines. Beck is not a medical doctor and has no background in virology.

CDC publishes pared-down sections from reopening guidance shelved by the White House – The Week – 5/14/2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published six one-page “decision tool” documents Thursday afternoon for schools, camps, businesses, and other institutions to use when deciding whether or how to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the only publicly released remnants of what was originally about 57 pages of detailed guidance from CDC scientists, whittled down to 17 pages and cleared by CDC leaders for release by President Trump’s May 1 reopening target date before the White House shelved the document.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Kyle Griffin @kylegriffin1 15 May Based on the CDC guidance that was shelved by the Trump admin, “no one who is reopening meets the criteria for reopening,” said a senior CDC official.

Nick Pope @nickpopemod 15 May @georgelennox83 @JoeBorelliNYC In the US we were sold a “14-day national shutdown” (most people have now done closer to 2 months) not to stop the virus (an impossibility), but to slow its spread and allow hospitals time to prepare. As we reopen, concentrating on shielding those *genuinely* at risk makes sense.

Frida Ghitis @FridaGhitis 15 May A 63-page draft of the CDC guidelines would have offered detailed advice on how to reopen activities. But it was “too precriptive,” and “it didn’t comport to Trump’s strategy.” So it was watered down into thin broth, a 6-page pamphlet

Alexander Nazaryan @alexnazaryan 15 May The reason new CDC guidelines on reopening schools & businesses are vague is following: They know some states are going to do it regardless of the numbers & need to give them political cover. Could only have stricter guidelines if federal govt was going to enforce them.

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