The White House is dealing with a second major leak from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in less than a week, which again shows the agency offering more detailed and restrictive guidance on reopening the country.
Last month, the CDC developed a 63-page guide called the “Guidance for Opening Up America Again Framework” for stopping the spread of the coronavirus. The plan offers more details than both the previously leaked CDC guide, and the plan released by the White House in April, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
The guide was leaked by an anonymous source, who the AP said was “not authorized to share the document with the press.”
But the second leak reflects growing dissent inside the agency on how the federal government is handling the pandemic. CDC officials were reportedly “uncomfortable” tying their guidance on mitigation to reopening the country and voiced their objections to the White House, according to the AP.
CDC director Robert Redfield and other top CDC officials shared the guidance with the White House in mid-April, according to emails obtained by the AP, though Redfield claimed over the weekend that the documents were just a draft.
As for the actual contents of the guide, it’s more restrictive than the one released by the White House last month, and calls for state and local governments to “build and maintain a core capacity” to respond to COVID-19 cases.
The guide says, for example, that states and local governments should be coordinating travel patterns, saying they will “impact efforts to reduce community transmission.” There have been several formal and informal regional pacts formed between states deciding when to reopen, and earlier this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the formation of “control rooms” that would offer recommendations on a regional basis.
While the structure of the guides is similar and calls for states to reopen in the now-familiar system of “phases,” there are some key differences. The White House, for example, says that employers should “minimize” non-essential travel until the first phase of reopening and that travel can safely resume in the second.
The CDC’s guidance, on the other hand, recommends only resuming non-essential in the third phase of reopening, saying that it “may be considered within and between low, controlled transmission jurisdictions."
In other ways, however, the document mirrors the White House’s language. For example, the document says that “state, local, tribal, and territorial officials are best positioned to determine which phase their jurisdiction falls within.” President Donald Trump has maintained that governors should make the decisions on when their states should reopen, though he’s criticized states that have been slower to do so.
On Wednesday, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said he would call for a resolution seeking the release of the CDC guidance, a proposal which immediately garnered at least one rejection from the Senate GOP.
"The White House is pushing for reopening but the truth of the matter is the White House has just not had a comprehensive plan where all the pieces fit,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, told the AP. “They're doing it piecemeal.”
Cover: The Centers for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia on April 23, 2020. (Photo: TAMI CHAPPELL/AFP via Getty Images)