CDC Releases New Re-Opening Guidelines That Are Softer In Tone Than Original Versions

( The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released long-awaited updated guidance on Thursday that can serve as a blueprint for how different sectors of life can re-open after coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted.
The CDC released a one-page “decision tool” for six different parts of the economy. They use graphical elements such as traffic signals to advise organizations on when they should re-open, how they should re-open and what they should consider before they re-open.
There is a “decision tool” for workplaces, camps, schools, mass transit systems, childcare centers, and bars and restaurants. The CDC also created a document for religious facilities and churches originally, but they did not release that with the other documents on Thursday.
The Trump administration pushed back against releasing guidance related to religious services, as it doesn’t want to put specific mandates on places of worship. This includes even simple suggestions of maintaining social distancing and limiting the number of people who can be in a church for services.
The director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, Roger Severino, said:
“Protections against religious discrimination aren’t suspended during an emergency. This means the federal government cannot single out religious conduct as somehow being more dangerous or worthy of scrutiny than comparable secular behavior.”
At the same time, the CDC has prepared more extensive guidance that provides more details for organizations about specific things they should do when they re-open. While those documents weren’t released as part of Thursday’s guidance, they are available in pieces on the CDC and other federal websites.
For workplaces and schools, for example, the more extensive guidance suggests making sure workers and students are at least six feet apart as well as closing cafeterias and break rooms. Many politicians and health experts have been pushing for the CDC to release as much guidance as possible so that business owners and other leaders of the community get re-assurance.
One of those people is the director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Tom Inglesby, who recently said of business owners:
“They want to be able to tell their own employees the guidance of the federal government. They want to be able to tell their customers, ‘We’ve done everything that’s been asked of us.'”
Much of the new guidance was revised a few times by the federal government after officials reviewed the initial drafts. In many places, according to an Associated Press report, the phrase “as feasible” was added to soften the suggestions. For example, the CDC initially recommended child care centers should be “checking for signs and symptoms of children and staff” for COVID-19. The version released Thursday added “as feasible” to the end.
There’s similar phrasing in sections of the workplace documents when the CDC talks about promoting good hygiene, such as having employees wearing masks while at the office or place of work and washing hands often.