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The CDC Had a Plan to Safely Reopen America. Donald Trump Ignored It.



Trump speaks during a press briefing.

While the world is still fighting the coronavirus pandemic, countries are slowly reopening for business. Several states in America have relaxed their stay-at-home orders, and Trump and the republicans are pushing to restart the economy and go back to normal. But there is no “normal” to be had in an ongoing pandemic, and strategies for reopening are mixed, with conflicting messages from federal, state, and local governments.

One organization with a thoughtful and detailed plan? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which drafted a 17 page document filled with specific recommendations for schools, restaurants, places of worship, and businesses on how to safely reopen and operate. The document, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” features the cumulative work and research of our nation’s top scientists and health professionals.

So of course Trump squashed it, saying that his administration would not be releasing or following any of the proposed guidelines. It is a devastating yet unsurprising take from Trump, who has repeatedly demonstrated his aversion to things like science, facts, and common sense. As a CDC official told the Associated Press, they were told that the report “would never see the light of day.”

The whistleblower, who remains anonymous, continued, “We are used to dealing with a White House that asks for things and then chaos ensues. A team of people at the CDC spent innumerable hours in response to an ask from Debbie Birx, … The 17-page report represents an ask from the White House Task Force to come up with these recommendations. That’s our role. To put together this guidance.”

The Trump administration has been reticent to put out any sort of guidelines, repeatedly using vague language while managing whatever nonsense Trumps spews out. In addition, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has largely been absent from press briefings. The CDC hasn’t held their own press briefing in nearly two months.

Instead, Trump and his cronies have largely kicked responsibility and decision-making down to the state level. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said as much in a briefing, repeating, “This is a governor-led effort. The President has said that governors make the decisions as to move forward, and we encourage them to follow our phased approach.”

With the CDC muzzled and Trump unhinged, many are turning to governors like Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, and Andrew Cuomo for some semblance of guidance and reassurance. In a deeply anxious and critical time, it feels like no one capable is at the helm.

Dr. Howard Koh, a Harvard professor and former Obama administration health official, said, “CDC has always been the public health agency Americans turn to in a time of crisis, … The standard in a crisis is to turn to them for the latest data and latest guidance and the latest press briefing. That has not occurred, and everyone sees that.”

The painful fact is this: Until there is a vaccine widely available, we have to drastically change the way we live our lives. School, work, retail, restaurants should be beholden to a new set of stringent guidelines. But those won’t happen under a president who is desperate to pretend everything is okay and we should all go back to normal.

(via AP News, image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.