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The Less you know...

CDC publishes pared-down sections from reopening guidance shelved by the White House

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published six one-page "decision tool" documents Thursday afternoon for schools, camps, businesses, and other institutions to use when deciding whether or how to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the only publicly released remnants of what was originally about 57 pages of detailed guidance from CDC scientists, whittled down to 17 pages and cleared by CDC leaders for release by President Trump's May 1 reopening target date before the White House shelved the document.

The published decision trees were edited by White House officials in the Office of Management and Budget, typically to add more wiggle room. They provide checklists for schools, camps, restaurants, bars, mass transit systems, childcare centers, and workplaces. Churches are on their own. "The CDC originally also authored a document for churches and other religious facilities, but that wasn't posted Thursday," The Associated Press reports. "The agency declined to say why," but government emails and interviews with Trump administration officials show the White House did not want the government making specific dictates to place of worship.

A CDC spokesman told The Washington Post that the agency may still released additional recommendations, but "this was an effort on our part to make some decision trees we thought might be helpful to those moving forward with opening their establishment," while other guidance went through the White House review process.

Top White House officials killed the 17-page detailed guidelines on April 30 with little explanation, AP reports, citing internal government emails. On Thursday, May 7, though, AP reported that the Trump administration had buried the guidance, and "after the story ran, the White House called the CDC and ordered them to refile all of the decision trees, except one that targeted churches," AP reports. "An email obtained by the AP confirmed the agency resent the documents late Thursday, hours after news broke." You can read the original document via The Associated Press.