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'Huge Step in the Right Direction' From CDC on Virus

Agency finally posts guidelines for Americans on how to minimize COVID-19 risk as we reopen
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 13, 2020 9:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Take the stairs, not the elevator, down from your hotel room. Encourage people to bring their own food and drinks to your cookout. Use hand sanitizer after banking at an ATM. Call ahead to restaurants and nail salons to make sure staff are wearing face coverings. And no high-fives—or even elbow bumps—at the gym. These are some of the tips in long-awaited guidance from US health officials about how to reduce risk of coronavirus infection for Americans attempting some semblance of normal life. The CDC posted the guidelines Friday, along with a second set for organizing and attending big gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, protests, and political rallies, though the guidelines are "not intended to endorse any particular type of event," the agency's Dr. Jay Butler said in a Friday call with reporters.

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The CDC has put out many sets of guidelines—including some for churches, camps, schools, and transit agencies—but until now, the organization hasn’t offered specific advice to people trying to decide how to safely do things like take vacations, get their nails done, host barbecues, visit a bank or library, go out to eat, or exercise at a gym. "It's a huge step in the right direction," says Julia Marcus, a Harvard Medical School infectious disease researcher. There are notable omissions: For instance, there's nothing about precautions to take before going to church, no guidance about dating and sex, and no explicit advice on a topic that some doctors say they get asked all the time: Is it OK to take the kids to visit grandparents? The CDC's director, Dr. Robert Redfield, calls his agency's new guidelines “common sense suggestions,” not mandates. More here and here.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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