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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials on Thursday released some of their long-delayed guidance that schools, businesses and other organizations can use as states reopen from coronavirus shutdowns.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted six one-page “decision tool” documents that use traffic signs and other graphics to tell organizations what they should consider before reopening.
The tools are for schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants. The CDC originally also authored a document for churches and other religious facilities, but that wasn’t posted Thursday. The agency declined to say why.
Early versions of the documents included detailed information for churches wanting to restart in-person services, with suggestions including maintaining distance between parishioners and limiting the size of gatherings. The faith-related guidance was taken out after the White House raised concerns about the recommended restrictions, according to government emails obtained by The Associated Press and a person inside the agency who didn’t have permission to talk with reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Owner Paul Furrer cuts the hair of Jeff Jones at Rick’s Barber Shop Thursday, May 14, 2020, in Waukesha, Wis. The store re-opened after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Ever’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Documents that U.S. health officials have released as part of some long-delayed specific guidance that schools, businesses, and other organizations can use as states reopen from coronavirus shutdowns are photographed Thursday, May 14, 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a set of six “decision tool” documents. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
Mark Mawhinney walks past one of the racks of records towards the sticker on the floor reminding customers to maintain distances in his “Music to My Ears” retail record and HiFi store, Thursday, May 14, 2020, in Pittsburgh. He was preparing the store to re-open Friday when some of the COVID-19 restrictions will be lessened in Pittsburgh and several western Pennsylvania counties as they move from red to yellow status. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
On Thursday, a Trump administration official also speaking on condition of anonymity said there were concerns about the propriety of the government making specific dictates to places of worship.
President Donald Trump has championed religious freedom as a way to connect with conservative evangelical voters and has shown eagerness for in-person religious services to restart. He consulted interfaith leaders last month for suggestions on how to reopen and said on a recent Fox News town hall that “we have to get our people back to churches, and we’re going to start doing it soon.”
The CDC drafted the reopening guidance more than a month ago and it was initially shelved by the administration, the AP reported last week.
The agency also had prepared even more extensive guidance — about 57 pages of it — that has not been posted.
That longer document, which the AP obtained, would give different organizations specifics about how to reopen while still limiting spread of the virus, including by spacing workers or students 6 feet apart and closing break rooms and cafeterias to limit gatherings. Many of the suggestions already appear on federal websites but they haven’t been presented as reopening advice.
Some health experts and politicians have been pushing for the CDC to release as much guidance as possible to help businesses and organizations decide how to proceed.
“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 at a congressional hearing Wednesday. “They want to be able to tell their customers, ‘We’ve done everything that’s been asked of us.’”
An Air Force C-17 Globemaster III of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing from March ARB completes a flyover of the Loma Linda University Medical Center to the excitement of the hospital staff on the ground in a salute to the frontline workers who are battling the coronavirus pandemic on May 14, in Murrieta, California.
Justin and Joanne Waters kiss after they were married in a walk up and drive-thru wedding ceremony at the Family and Civil courthouse in Gainesville, Florida, on May 14.
Ai Feng, 6, and her neighbors parade up and down in their block with the United States flag to honor healthcare workers and to sing along with Liza Minnelli’s recording of the
“Theme from New York, New York.” in the Greenwich Village, on May 14, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jerry A. Mann, second from right, stands with his grandmother, Sylvia Rubio, as he prepares to be tested for COVID-19 by the San Antonio Fire Department at a free walk-up test site set up to help underserved and minority communities in San Antonio, Texas, on May 14.
Illusionist Criss Angel, center, counts boxes of food and other items as they are organized outside the Cure 4 The Kids Foundation pediatric cancer treatment center amid the spread of the coronavirus on May 14, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Shamila Martin, graduating from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School, participates in a parade of vehicles celebrating the graduating 2020 High School seniors on May 14, in Aventura, Florida. The graduating seniors were cheered on as they drove through the city escorted by the Aventura Police Department, students and parents. The unorthodox graduation ceremony was created as a way to safely celebrate during the coronavirus pandemic.
Friends Carrie Nasi left, Tracey, Cindy Colema and Lori Stayberg, met for food and drinks at Jonesy’s Local Bar on the first day of the bar reopening in Hudson. Bars, restaurants and everything else is reopening in Wisconsin after the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s stay-at-home order on May 14.
Food Bank for the Heartland volunteers hold up bags of fruit as they direct arriving cars at a drive-thru location in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 14. The number of Nebraskans filing new unemployment claims appears to be stabilizing but is still far higher than it was before the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released Thursday.
The entrance of the Hollywood Bowl displays a message on a marquee after they scrapped their entire summer concert season, on May 14 in Hollywood, California.
A registered nurse draws blood from resident Sonia Joy to test for COVID-19 antibodies at Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City on May 14.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on May 14 in Washington, D.C.
A man wearing a face mask puts some signs in front of his store amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 14 in Arlington, Virginia.
Demonstrators hold a rally in front of the state capital building to protest the governor’s stay-at-home order on May 14 in Lansing, Michigan.
Signs tell members of Congress where to sit to follow social distancing guidelines during the House Rules Committee hearing about the proposal to authorize remote voting by proxy in the House of Representatives due to the risks presented by the coronavirus pandemic in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill on May 14 in Washington, D.C.
Dozens of local aviators took flight above the metro Denver area to raise money for a COVID-19 relief fund and to support essential workers in Denver, Colorado on May 14.
A sign “Temporarily Closed” is seen in front of a store amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 14 in Arlington, Virginia.
Nurses are applauded by police and firefighters as they leave Kaiser Hospital at the end of their shift on May 14 in South San Francisco, California.
Marvin and Junior pass a cleaning technician as he deep cleaned and fogged their home on May 14 in Stamford, Connecticut.
Border Patrol Assistant Chief, Peter Daniel, gives cans of food to Sergio Palancares at The Pantry of Broward on May 14 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
A customer maintains a social distance while queuing outside Starbucks on May 13 in Marina del Rey, California.
A woman walks past a mural in front of a store displaying a hopeful message amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 13 in Arlington, Virginia.
A sign urging social distancing due to coronavirus, is seen outside of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C on May 13.
Hundreds of motor coaches representing companies from across the country drive laps around the National Mall to protest the economic impact the novel coronavirus pandemic is having on their business, on May 13 in Washington, D.C. Organized by the American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach Association, the ‘rolling rally’ is demanding relief and a return to work for its national workforce.
Masked visitors attend the re-opening of the Farmer’s Market, in Manhattan Beach, California on May 12, after being closed for eight weeks.
Mississippi Army National Guard Sgt. Newman Kazery, right, elbow bumps with Charles Jenkins, a supply tech and disabled Navy veteran, as he goes to work at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson on May 12. Kazery was one of 50 members of the Mississippi Air and Army National Guard that stood outside the medical facility and applaud both incoming and outgoing medical shifts honoring medical personnel for their efforts in working with the coronavirus on the final day of National Nurses Week.
The New Orleans Health Department, LCMC Health, and LSU Health Sciences offer free coronavirus disease walk-up testing at the Treme Recreation Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, on May 12.
Homemade face masks for sale blow in the wind outside of a business, on May 12 in San Antonio. Texas. San Antonio continues to encourage face masks or coverings as well as social distancing in an an effort to fight the new coronavirus pandemic.
A man wearing a face mask hurries across York Road after shopping for groceries, on May 12 in Towson, Maryland. Americans are slowly getting back on the road after hunkering down amid the coronavirus pandemic, though driving still is well below what it was before many states issued stay-at-home orders.
Airport workers hold an in-vehicle circular rally for better protections amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on May 12.
Jill Evans sorts students’ belongings as she packs them in her kindergarten classroom at Walnut Grove Elementary school on May 12 in Olathe. Teachers were gathering belongings and classwork of their students so they could be picked up by parents next week. The school closed on March 13, as all Kansas schools were ordered shut to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and eventually ordered closed for the remainder of the school year. Evans, who will be teaching at a different school next fall said she will miss saying goodbye to her students at the end of the school year.
A cyclist rides through the nearly empty financial district in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 12.
A demonstrator holds a sign outside Tesla’s primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk announced he was defying local officials’ restrictions by reopening the plant in Fremont, California, on May 12.
Healthcare workers at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County take photos with co-workers after they watched the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron fly over in Chicago on May 12. The flyover was a salute to first responders in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, a little girl wears a mask at El Rancho grocery store in Dallas, Texas on May 12.
The South Carolina Supreme Court met on May 12 in Columbia, South Carolina., for its first- ever oral arguments via teleconference. The Court heard concerns over potential difficulties of voting in this year’s elections due to the coronavirus outbreak, as social distancing recommendations remain in place.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, walks to speak about the so-called Heroes Act on May 12 on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Pelosi unveiled a more than $3 trillion coronavirus aid package, providing nearly $1 trillion for states and cities, “hazard pay” for essential workers and a new round of cash payments to individuals.
People wait to vote at a voting station for the special election between Democratic state assembly woman Christy Smith and Republican businessman and ex-Navy pilot Mike Garcia to replace former Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill in the state’s 25th Congressional District, in Santa Clarita, California on May 12.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly over Detroit in solidarity with healthcare and frontline workers as the coronavirus pandemic continues on May 12 in Detroit, Michigan.
Laura Anderson grabs a can of food for a box on May 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Salvation Army, with the help of the Midwest Food Bank and the Indiana National Guard, packed 5,000 boxes at Lucas Oil Stadium to help Hoosier families in need.
Senators Tim Kaine and Richard Burr greet each other with an elbow bump before the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on COVID-19 on May 12 in Washington, D.C. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is expected to testify remotely before the committee.
People line up in their cars at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Bergen Community College main campus, in Paramus, New Jersey on May 12.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks remotely during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 12 in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 11 in Washington, D.C.
Karle Manke, 77, cuts a customer’s hair at his barbershop which he opened on May 4 and has since been issued two citations, defying the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) executive order of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in Owosso, Michigan on May 11. Manke says he will keep his shop open and running and is encouraging customers to abide by social distancing rules and to wear masks.
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, chair of the Assembly Accountability & Administrative Review Committee, questions Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, about the state’s purchase of protective equipment to battle the coronavirus, during an oversight hearing in Sacramento, Calif. on May 11.
A King County Metro bus driver wipes down a handrail before stepping onto a bus on May 11 in Seattle, Washington. The coronavirus pandemic has plunged Puget Sound-area transit agencies into a crisis-planning mode, as ridership and revenue have plunged and predictions that people will not be returning to buses and trains in large numbers anytime soon.
A mural honoring healthcare workers at Montefiore Medical Center in New York on May 11.
Workers divide bulk food into bags for donation by SOMOS, in partnership with World Central Kitchen and Maestro Cares Foundation on May 11 in New York.
A man wearing a face mask walks past The Forever Marilyn statue by Seward Johnson, which is also wearing a mask amid the Coronavirus outbreak at National Harbor, Maryland on May 11.
Massachusetts US Army National Guard soldiers distribute food at John Ruiz Park to people suffering from food insecurity due to the coronavirus pandemic on May 11 in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Gallery by photo services
The guidance relates to another document released by the Trump administration on April 17. That phased-in reopening plan broadly outlines how to move away from stay-at-home orders, school closures and other measures designed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus that has caused more than 1.3 million reported U.S. illnesses and more than 80,000 deaths.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, on Wednesday offered a resolution — blocked by Republicans — to encourage release of all the documents.
“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,” Schumer said.
The decision tools have been undergoing review by different federal officials, and they’ve been edited from earlier versions.
For example, an earlier draft of the one-page document on camps obtained by the AP asked organizers if their program would limit attendance to people who live nearby. If the answer was no, the camp was advised not to reopen. That local attendance limitation was dropped and was not in the version posted Thursday.
And in that document and others, language has been dropped that asked if the organization is in a community that is still requiring significant disease mitigation. If the answer was yes, the organization was advised not to reopen.
Many of the changes provide more wiggle room than what was in the initial versions.
For example, in the document for people who run child care centers, the older version obtained by the AP stated that CDC recommended “checking for signs and symptoms of children and staff.” The new guidelines add “as feasible” to the end.
Similar new language about feasibility appears in sections about promoting healthy hygiene such as hand washing and employees wearing cloth masks.
Dearen reported from Gainesville, Florida. AP reporters Mary Clare Jalonick, Zeke Miller and Elana Schor contributed to this report.