After Weeks of Delay, CDC Issues Guide to Reopening

Officials complain the agency has been 'muzzled'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2020 4:50 PM CDT
CDC Issues 3-Phase Guide for Reopening
An employee at Fortina restaurant disinfects an outdoor table in preparation for the opening of outdoor dining, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Stamford, Conn. ine.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

As the country reopens in stages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a reopening guide that was reportedly shelved by federal officials earlier this month. The 60-page guide, posted on the CDC's website with little fanfare, calls for a three-phased approach, with the use of six indicators, including a decline in new coronavirus cases, to determine when to move to the next phase of reducing social distancing and other mitigation measures, CNBC reports. Detailed guidance is provided for steps that schools, day care centers, restaurants, and other businesses should take as they move through the three phases. The Washington Post notes that a section on churches the White House considered too restrictive has been removed.

The CDC says there should be a "low threshold" for reinstating social distancing measures, acknowledging that the move "will undoubtedly be very difficult and will require careful thought." It's not clear to what extent the guidelines will be followed: The New York Times reports that all 50 states have started reopening with "vast variations," as Democratic-led states in the Northeast, Midwest, and on the West Coast move slowest. CDC officials speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity complain that amid tensions with the White House, the agency has been largely sidelined during the pandemic. "We've been muzzled," one official says. "What's tough is that if we would have acted earlier on what we knew and recommended, we would have saved lives and money." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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