U.S. health officials on Thursday released guidance for schools, businesses and other organizations to use, as states begin to reopen from coronavirus shutdowns.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued several “decision tool” documents that use traffic signs and other graphics advise organizations on what to consider before reopening.
The tools are geared toward schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants. Places of worship are not addressed in any of the final version, as a Trump administration official speaking on condition of anonymity reports there were concerns about the propriety of the government dictating the activities and schedules of places of worship.
A lengthier CDC document, which the Associated Press obtained, would give different organizations more specific on reopening while limiting spread of the virus, such as by spacing workers or students six feet apart, along with closing break rooms and cafeterias to limit gatherings.
Health experts and politicians have been asking the CDC to release as much guidance as possible to help businesses and organizations determine their next steps.
“They want to be able to tell their own employees the guidance of the federal government,” Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, said during a congressional hearing Wednesday. “They want to be able to tell their customers, ‘We’ve done everything that’s been asked of us.’”
When you wear a cloth face covering, you help protect those around you from #COVID19. Help keep each other safe by continuing to properly wear cloth face coverings every time, the entire time you’re in public. Learn more: https://t.co/lxWMe4NUBD. pic.twitter.com/hrWqoPfW4V
— CDC (@CDCgov) May 14, 2020
New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer adds, “America needs and must have the candid guidance of our best scientists unfiltered, unedited, uncensored by president Trump or his political minions. The CDC report on reopening the country is an important piece of that guidance.”
The decision tools are still undergoing review by federal officials, and have been edited from earlier versions.
For example, language has been removed that asked if an organization is located in a community that still requires significant measures to avoid spreading the virus. If the answer was yes, the original document advised the organization not to reopen.
Meanwhile, the original version of the document for operators of child care centers stated that CDC recommended “checking for signs and symptoms of children and staff.” The new version adds “as feasible” to the end of that statement.
Similar new language regarding feasibility also appears in sections that promote healthy hygiene such as hand washing and employees wearing cloth masks.