The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is releasing its extensive reopening guidelines that were previously reportedly shelved by the White House.
On Wednesday, the federal agency published the 60-page document on its government website without a formal announcement. The released document, which is a shorter variation of the previous draft guidance, outlines the structure for a three-phased approach to reopening.
The CDC’s guidance also includes enhanced social distancing guidelines and gated criteria for the reopening of businesses, schools, and daycares. The six “gating” indicators explained in the document will also help businesses determine when they can advance to the next phase of reopening.
“This guidance sets forth a menu of safety measures, from which establishments may choose those that make sense for them in the context of their operations and local community, as well as State and local regulations and directives.”
However, the CDC has removed guidelines for religious institutions.
According to CBS-58, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights asked CDC officials to remove verbiage specifically associated with religious institutions in an effort to focus on a generalized perspective instead of singling out churches.
“This official said the guidelines needed to be more broad — giving the example of ‘no one should share a cup’ versus ‘don’t share a Communion cup,'” as the publication reports.
Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS, explained the importance of the federal government refraining from using verbiage that is exclusive to religious institutions and conduct.
“Protections against religious discrimination aren’t suspended during an emergency,” Severino said, adding, “This means the federal government cannot single out religious conduct as somehow being more dangerous or worthy of scrutiny than comparable secular behavior.”
He continued, “HHS has a duty to instruct the public on how to stay safe during this crisis and can absolutely do so without dictating to people how they should worship God.”
However, guidance specifically for religious institutions could come out at a later time, as The Washington Post cites an administration official.
View the full CDC document below:
CDC Activities Initiatives … by on Scribd
The CDC’s quiet release of the document follows reports about the White House’s decision not to release the previous version. At the time, the extensive guidance spawned confusion.
Emails obtained by the Associated Press confirmed that CDC director Robert Redfield actually cleared the guidance to be released.
However, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed the document was leaked by a “rogue” employee as it was still in the editing process. Redfield also then said the document wasn’t finalized.
Noting that the guidance is not a one-size-fits-all plan, the CDC expects sequential progress to vary from community to community.
“While some communities will progress sequentially through the reopening phases, there is the possibility of recrudescence in some areas,” the CDC wrote in its guidance. “Given the potential for a rebound in the number of cases or level of community transmission, a low threshold for reinstating more stringent mitigation standards will be essential.”
As of Wednesday morning, all 50 states have now taken steps toward some form of reopening phase.