Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration was blocking the release of CDC prepared guidelines for states to use in re-opening.
The Trump administration shelved a document created by the nation’s top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak.
The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.
It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The AP obtained a copy from a second federal official who was not authorized to release it. The guidance was described in AP stories last week, prior to the White House decision to shelve it.
Traditionally, it’s been the CDC’s role to give the public and local officials guidance and science-based information during public health crises. During this one, however, the CDC has not had a regular, pandemic-related news briefing in nearly two months. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has been a member of the White House coronavirus task force, but largely absent from public appearances.
The dearth of real-time, public information from the nation’s experts has struck many current and former government health officials as dangerous.
“CDC has always been the public health agency Americans turn to in a time of crisis,” said Dr. Howard Koh, a Harvard professor and former health official in the Obama administration during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009. “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.”
This is utter bullsh**. When an entire nation has its economy shuttered, no one wants some pencil neck Ph.D. who has lived his entire life on the government teat telling them what to do. That is why we elect a president and elect governors. Real-time information from actual experts and the policymakers has been constant. If you haven’t heard it, it is because you are too busy trying to dunk on President Trump on Twitter to report it.
The real objection is that the White House is controlling the messaging and the policy and relegating the Stage 5 TDS sufferers and Deep Staters at the CDC to irrelevance. These sh**canned guidelines were a direct effort by someone, or some group of people, in the CDC to do an end-run around the administration’s re-opening strategy by strait-jacketing state governments with guidelines that would hinder, if not outright prevent, them from getting people back to work.
A person close to the White House’s coronavirus task force said the CDC documents were never cleared by CDC leadership for public release. The person said that White House officials have refrained from offering detailed guidance for how specific sectors should reopen because the virus is affecting various parts of the country differently. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The rejected reopening guidance was described by one of the federal officials as a touchstone document that was to be used as a blueprint for other groups inside the CDC who are creating the same type of instructional materials for other facilities.
The guidance contained detailed advice for making site-specific decisions related to reopening schools, restaurants, summer camps, churches, day care centers and other institutions. It had been widely shared within the CDC and included detailed “decision trees,” flow charts to be used by local officials to think through different scenarios. One page of the document can be found on the CDC website via search engines, but it did not appear to be linked to any other CDC pages.
Some of the report’s suggestions already appear on federal websites. But the guidance offered specific, tailored recommendations for reopening in one place.
For example, the report suggested restaurants and bars should install sneeze guards at cash registers and avoid having buffets, salad bars and drink stations. Similar tips appear on the CDC’s site and a Food and Drug Administration page.
But the shelved report also said that as restaurants start seating diners again, they should space tables at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart and try to use phone app technology to alert a patron when their table is ready to avoid touching and use of buzzers. That’s not on the CDC’s site now.
Hmmmm. An outlandish document produced by government insiders then leaked to the press to seed a story that corners Trump. Never seen this before https://t.co/CoL9gBy2lg
— Julie Kelly (@julie_kelly2) May 7, 2020
There is a good reason for this. If you are going to get rid of drink stations, fast food restaurants and the hybrid gas station/convenience store chains like WaWa’s and Sheetz would be required to stop selling coffee or soft drinks unless they undertook an expensive renovation project and changed their internal processes for a space of a few weeks (we hope). And we know from the utterly stupid way the police have acted during this crisis that they would send SWAT teams to shut places down. Requiring a restaurant to place tables 6 feet apart is tantamount to ordering them closed. There is no way a restaurant stays in business when they have to pay rent based on the square foot but most of that floor space is vacant for bullsh** social distancing purposes.
The Trump administration has made it clear that each state is responsible for handling its own response. Some, like Arkansas and South Dakota, adopted reasonable methods and have seen little impact. Others, like New York and New Jersey, have proceeded to endorse some of the most boneheaded and stupid ideas ever invented and have been punished for their efforts. There is no reason why successful states should be forced to adopt policies designed for failed states.
CDC and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Dr. Anthony Fauci have made it clear that they disapprove of the actions taken by Florida and Georgia. The hubris of people with literally no skin in the game, who are not suffering in the least because of this fear-induced hysteria, criticizing elected officials for seeing to the needs of their constituents tells you these people should never, ever, be let close to real power.
The Trump administration knows that if the CDC gets away with issuing guidelines, then all states will have to abide by them. The political cost of being blamed for every death will be too high. You can also bet that business owners will be sued into oblivion if they don’t follow the CDC issued guidelines.
Bluntly speaking, what happens now is clearly a political matter, not a medical one. The danger presented by this virus has been wildly and irresponsibly oversold and untold harm, including unnecessary deaths and permanent incapacitations that will eventually rival even the inflated Wuhan virus death toll, inflicted upon the nation and its people. The CDC should provide advice on how to treat the disease and provide guidance that has a scientific basis for how to prevent its spread (hint: neither wearing masks nor social distancing has any proof to support their efficacy beyond the gut feeling of ‘scientists,’ many of whom are the same goobers who predicted overrun hospitals and people dying in the streets), but they should be forbidden to provide anything other than what is clearly labeled advice. Otherwise, President Trump and his administration will have ceded control of the nation’s economy to people who have a personal, professional, and political interest in dragging this out as long as possible.