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CDC posts basic guidance for reopening amid coronavirus

Tensions grow as states slowly reopen
Tensions grow as states slowly reopen 02:04

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted a collection of simple, one-page guidelines, or "decision trees," for communities on when they should reopen various sectors of their economies from coronavirus lockdowns. The documents cover the workplace and mass transit, as well as childcareschools and camps. There's also a link for restaurants and bars.  

The pages contain a series of questions about whether facilities are in compliance with local orders and whether they can protect those who are at higher risk for "severe illness." For the pages involving children, another question is asked: "Are you able to screen students and employees upon arrival for symptoms and history of exposure?" 

Much of the advice is familiar, encouraging social distancing, frequent hand washing, and mask wearing. And the guidance also advocates liberal leave policies, and advises employers to be vigilant in checking for signs of illness and to have plans in place in case they have sick employees. 

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The decision trees are far less detailed than the 60+ pages of CDC draft guidance published by the Associated Press. CBS News has confirmed with a CDC official that the draft guidance was authentic.   

Senior administration officials told CBS News that the White House shelved the draft after the Coronavirus Task Force decided that releasing such detailed guidance would send a "mixed message," given that President Trump has said he wants governors and local leaders to decide what is best for their communities. The new guidelines are a "revised" and greatly simplified version of the larger draft.

"It's six things versus 63 pages, because most Americans don't have time to read 63 pages," a senior administration official told CBS News.

The advice published in the decision trees, in many cases, has a more flexible tone. In the draft guidelines, "Limit travel and modify commuting practices," becomes, "Consider modifying travel and commuting practices," and "[p]romote telework for employees who do not live in the local area, if feasible" in the decision tree.

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As another example, the published memo on child care facilities completely removes from the draft guidance a warning to, "be ready to close if there are increased cases."
 
CDC Director Robert Redfield said that the draft guidance had been "shared prematurely and "had not been vetted through the interagency review process." 
 
"This is an iterative effort to ensure effective, clear guidance is presented to the American people," Redfield said in a statement last week. "I had not seen a version of the guidance incorporating interagency and task force input and therefore was not yet comfortable releasing a final work product."
 
A Coronavirus Task Force official said earlier this month that the draft guidelines were "overly specific" and "overly prescriptive," in light of the variety of ways the different states are experiencing COVID-19 infections. Rural Tennessee's guidance shouldn't be the same as guidance for New York City, the official said. 

Reporting by Sara Cook and Ben Tracy.

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