The federal government's leading infectious disease experts have quietly released more detailed guidelines to date for the reopening of schools, restaurants, public transport systems and other companies interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Published last week with little fanfare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 60-page document includes six “decision trees,” or flowcharts, offering checklists of when and how to safely reopen dining areas, subway cars, classrooms and child care facilities. It also establishes the basic criteria for reopening, including intensifying testing and a 14-day drop in coronavirus cases.
States and municipalities are already reversing restrictions and closures implemented due to the pandemic. An earlier and longer version of the guidelines was filed by the White House because it was too prescriptive. The Trump administration has given states wide latitude to determine their reopening strategies.
Some familiar suggestions appear in the most recent guidelines, including frequent hand washing and social distance in all sectors. Others look new. In the early stages, the CDC recommends restricting the number of passengers on mass transit to crucial infrastructure workers and opening child care facilities only to the children of essential workers, such as nurses and doctors.
Some encode ideas previously publicized by health experts, such as surprising school start times and employee shifts to improve social distance and the installation of sneeze guards in bars and other locations.
It doesn’t include in the guidelines how houses of worship and religious institutions should operate, which were woven into an earlier version of the guidelines and removed due to the Trump administration’s concerns about violating religious freedom, according to a report by the Politico.