White House Rejects CDC Reopening Guidance as Too Prescriptive

May 8, 2020 by White House Rejects CDC Reopening Guidance as Too Prescriptive May 8, 2020by Bloomberg News (TNS)
President Donald Trump, second from left, speaks as Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar, left, CDC Director Robert Redfield and CDC Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety Dr. Steve Monroe, right, during a tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday, March 6, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — The White House blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from issuing specific guidance for U.S. day cares, restaurants, churches, theaters and other businesses to reopen from the coronavirus outbreak out of concern the recommendations were too prescriptive, according to two Trump administration officials.

CDC leadership hadn’t signed off on the guidance before it was submitted to the White House’s coronavirus task force, said a task force official. One issue was that the CDC guidance didn’t account for whether businesses were in hard-hit parts of the country or not, said the task force official and the second person, a White House official.

Both asked not to be identified because the deliberations weren’t meant to be public. Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the CDC, declined to comment.

The White House task force issued broad guidelines for reopening the country on April 16 but largely left the specifics to states on how to restart economic and social activities. The CDC was told the task force would look at revisions to the guidance but the task force hasn’t received an updated document, said the administration officials.

The CDC is tasked with protecting Americans from health threats and had been the agency U.S. officials turned to during pandemics and other outbreaks but it has largely been sidelined during this virus response. Vice President Mike Pence has been leading the task force and President Trump dominated most of the daily briefings for the public.

The Associated Press first reported the disagreement over the CDC guidance.

A version of the guidance posted by the AP gives detailed instructions to businesses and churches on how to protect workers and customers, how to clean spaces, and how to minimize risk from the virus. Summer camps, for example, would be told to limit interaction between groups of children, maintain social distancing measures, and check people for symptoms of the disease. Child-care centers would be limited to caring for children of essential workers early on, and then later expand to more services.

U.S. coronavirus cases have been soaring since mid-March.

There have been more than 1.2 million confirmed U.S. COVID-19 cases and more than 75,000 deaths. While outbreaks in New York and New Jersey appear to be on the downslope, the country continues to add more than 20,000 new cases a day.

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Jeannie Baumann contributed to this report.

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©2020 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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