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Shelved CDC guidance included more severe restrictions than White House plan: report

Shelved CDC guidance included more severe restrictions than White House plan: report
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Shelved guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on reopening the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic included more severe restrictions than the White House’s proposal for reopening, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The CDC's 63-page document, obtained by the AP, detailed more restrictions beyond what had been previously reported, indicating more differences in the CDC experts’ approach when compared with the White House. 

The CDC’s plan detailed step-by-step directions on how to reopen the government and “help Americans re-enter civic life” with the recognition that resurgences of the virus were very likely. It also offered guidance for communities on how to handle shutting facilities down again in the event of a coronavirus flare. 

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The White House guidance released April 17 included some of the CDC guidance, according to the report, but placed most of the responsibility for reopening on state governors and local officials.

The White House said last week that the CDC’s document was a draft and not ready for release. 

The health experts advocated against tying their guidance to reopening to White House officials assigned to approve the recommendations for release, a CDC official told the AP. The administration officially set aside the centers’ guidance on April 30, the AP reported, citing internal government emails and CDC sources.

Both the CDC’s guidance and the White House’s plan urge communities to reopen in phases to prevent resurgence. 

But the CDC recommendations encourage people to consider nonessential travel only in the last phase after 42 consecutive days of decreasing cases. The White House’s plan says travel should be minimized in the first phase and after 28 days of decreasing cases, “nonessential travel can resume.”

The health experts also advised a nationally coordinated effort for reopening because a resurgence in one state will affect others.

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“Travel patterns within and between jurisdictions will impact efforts to reduce community transmission too. Coordination across state and local jurisdictions is critical — especially between jurisdictions with different mitigation needs,” the report states, according to the AP.

CDC Director Robert Redfield on Tuesday testified in front of the Senate, saying that recommendations would be released “soon.” Internal government emails obtained by the AP show the director began asking for White House approval for the guidance as early as April 10.

The White House and CDC did not immediately return requests for comment.