The advice of America’s top disease control experts on how to safely reopen businesses and institutions during the coronavirus pandemic was more detailed and restrictive than the plan released by the White House last month.
The guide, which was archived by Donald Trump administration officials, also included recommendations intended to help communities decide when to re-impose restrictions in the event of future COVID-19 outbreaks.
The Associated Press agency obtained a 63-page document that is more detailed than other segments of the guide filed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. It shows how the thinking of CDC infection control experts differs from that of the White House handling the response to the pandemic.RELATED
The White House plan, Opening Up America Again, released on April 17, included part of the CDC’s approach. However, it made clear that responsibility for decisions about reopening lay solely with state governors and local officials.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, spoke at a briefing on coronavirus at the White House. / AP
Instead, the CDC-created organizing tool calls for a coordinated national response to give step-by-step instructions to authorities to “help Americans rejoin civic life,” with the idea that there would be resurgences of the virus and much more. necessary customization. The White House said last week that the document was a draft and was not ready for publication.
It contains the kinds of details officials need to make informed decisions, some experts said.
“The White House is pushing for it to reopen, but the truth is that it does not have a comprehensive plan in which all the pieces fit. They are doing it little by little,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Association of Public health.
Such detailed advice should have been available much earlier, said Stephen Morse, an expert at Columbia University in the spread of disease.
The CDC’s recommendations for reopening the economy contain guidelines on what to do if there are any further outbreaks of coronavirus. / EFE
“Many different places are considering how to safely develop return-to-work procedures. Having more guidance on that before could have been more reassuring for people. And it could have prevented some cases,” Morse said.
From the start, CDC staff working on the guide felt uneasy that it was specifically linked to the reopening, and voiced objections to White House officials tasked with approving the guide for publication, according to a CDC official who spoke off the record because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
The detailed CDC guide was finally archived by the government on April 30, according to internal government emails and CDC sources who spoke off. After AP reported last week that the guide had been archived, the White House asked the CDC to revive parts of it, which were returned for approval, according to emails and interviews.
CDC Director Robert Redfield testified before a US Senate committee Tuesday. that the recommendations were to be published “soon”. He did not elaborate. Internal government emails show that, since at least April 10, Redfield has been continuously seeking the White House’s approval of CDC guidelines.
The CDC and White House recommendations differ on when to re-allow flights within the reopening phases. / EFE
Both the CDC document and the plan released by the White House recommend that the reopening be done in phases as local coronavirus cases decline.
The CDC guide advises avoiding all non-essential travel in the reopening phases, except the last one, which is when the cases will already be at the lowest levels. And even then, the CDC is cautious, advising only to “contemplate” the resumption of nonessential travel after 42 continuous days of declining COVID-19 cases.
The White House plan, by contrast, recommends that communities “minimize” travel in Phase 1, and that in Phase 2, after 28 consecutive days of decline, “non-essential travel be resumed.”
Anthony Fauci warned that if isolation measures are lifted too quickly, serious consequences can result. / AP
As of Tuesday, the CDC’s webpage on pandemic travel guidance remains linked to the White House plan. The strictest guide is not there.
Another marked difference between the final White House plan and that designed by CDC epidemiologists is the latter’s recognition that COVID-19 cases are likely to increase after states reopen, and that governments Locals need to monitor their communities closely.
The final White House reopening plan lacks guidance on how local communities can trace information beyond positive cases. But the CDC document offers insights on how to act once the increases in cases begin to occur more quickly, using demographic information.
The CDC claims that local authorities could closely monitor the number of families in the area with limited English proficiency, how many people live in poverty or do not have health coverage, and even what they call areas where the virus has caused “civic strain,” such as those places where many workers became ill or lost income due to closings.
The White House plan offers few details of this type. It provides vague guidance, such as “protecting the health and safety of workers in critical industries,” and advises States to “protect the most vulnerable” by developing “appropriate policies.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, warned Tuesday that if isolation measures are lifted too quickly, serious consequences can result, both in deaths and economic hardship. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has continued to pressure states to act to correct a free-falling economy.
CDC guidelines highlight the dangers of states and regions going alone in these dangerous times. The agency advises a national approach, rather than a mosaic, because one state’s policies will eventually affect others.
“Travel patterns within and between jurisdictions will impact efforts to reduce transmission in the community as well. Coordination across state and local jurisdictions is critical, especially between jurisdictions with different mitigation needs,” the report states.
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