Enlarge /. Signage will be available on Saturday, March 14, 2020, outside the headquarters of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
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Public health experts at U.S. disease control and prevention centers have released their recommendations on how to safely reopen companies in the COVID 19 pandemic – after Trump administration officials rejected the guidelines and reportedly reported them to CDC officials had their plan "that would never see" daylight. "
The 17-page document (PDF can be found here) was originally supposed to be published last Friday, but has not been published. Instead, it was released to the Associated Press by a CDC official who was not authorized to publish it.
The guidelines contain detailed, step-by-step recommendations for the safe reopening of childcare programs, schools, day camps, religious communities, companies with vulnerable workers, restaurants, bars and local transport. Although some of the general points already outlined already appear on federal websites – such as the emphasis on hand hygiene – the document uniquely provides tailored recommendations for every type of business.
For example, the section on reopening childcare facilities recommends that plush toys be avoided in the facilities, that each child has their own plate during meals, and that parent drop-off and pick-up times are staggered. Recommendations for restaurants include installing physical barriers such as sneeze guards around the host stations and avoiding the use of portable "buzzers" to inform waiting guests that their table is ready.
Although such detailed recommendations from public health experts are likely to be welcomed by business owners, they are said to have been a sticking point for the Trump administration. According to unnamed sources close to the government that have spoken to the AP, the White House has not offered such information because of the different rates of disease transmission in different regions of the country. Areas with fewer diseases may want to take fewer precautions.
Similarly, an unnamed government official told CNN that the White House Coronavirus Task Force believes the guidelines are "too strict" because "guidelines in rural Tennessee should not be the same guidelines for urban New York City." ". The official also noted that the CDC guidelines did not match the "phases" described in a reopening guideline already published by the task force.
As the AP noted, it has traditionally been the CDC's job to offer such guidelines and to inform the public about the best evidence-based health practices. However, during this pandemic, the Trump administration largely put the agency out of action. CDC officials have not held a press conference on the pandemic in nearly two months.
"CDC has always been the public health agency that Americans turn to in times of crisis," said Dr. Howard Koh told the AP. Koh is a Harvard professor and worked in the Obama administration during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. "The standard in a crisis is to turn to them for the latest data and guidelines, as well as the latest press conferences. It hasn't happened, and everyone sees it."