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CDC Updates Guidelines For Reopening Public Places

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Wow, some difficult scenes there from Michigan - all right, let's bring in NPR science correspondent Allison Aubrey.

Hey there, Allison.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Hey there.

KELLY: Hey. So, I mean, I want to get your take here. We just heard people in Michigan being forced out of their homes, being forced into schools, where they are trying to maintain some semblance of social distancing. This comes as we're getting this guidance, the CDC updating its guidance for reopening places where people are going to be in close proximity, including in schools. Tell us what the CDC has to say on this.

AUBREY: Sure. Well, the CDC is recommending a whole bunch of different policies for schools to put in place when they decide to reopen - so rearranging classrooms with desks at least 6 feet apart, kids arriving at different times, eating lunch in the classroom as opposed to the crowded cafeteria. In addition, the CDC is recommending daily monitoring or screening for symptoms, which could include a daily temperature check at school. And some schools are considering alternating between distance learning days and in-class learning, so school's going to look a lot different come fall.

KELLY: It sure is. What about businesses, how different might that look if they are following this new CDC guidance?

AUBREY: Yeah. Well, the guidance says employers should consider conducting routine daily health checks for all employees. That's going to include a symptom screening or a temperature check. They say employees who come to work with symptoms such as fever, cough should immediately be separated, be sent home. And those who are sick should stay home. Now, all of this sounds good, right? But I spoke to Aaron Carroll. He's a health policy expert at Indiana University. And he says a lot of small businesses just aren't well-equipped to do this.

AARON CARROLL: Many businesses will turn around and say, like, how can we do that? We don't have the resources available to do that. I mean, even if we were willing to put up the money, there's not enough testing. Or how do we provide, you know, stay-at-home sick leave, paid sick leave when that's not national policy or there's no mechanism to do so? So without actually fixing huge parts of both our response and the way society works in general, it would be very, very difficult to implement the things that we know we need to.

AUBREY: So clearly a lot of challenges - and he's pointing to the need for structural changes.

KELLY: Allison, I want to ask you about a report that we are seeing today. This report indicates one of the strategies being used by the president's reelection campaign is finding doctors who agree with him on - that the economy should reopen and fast and then trying to amplify those voices. How do we reconcile that with these CDC guidelines you're telling me about and the, you know, the more mainstream take from a lot of public health experts?

AUBREY: Sure. Right. Well, so the AP published a report that found Republican political operatives are recruiting pro-Trump doctors to go on television and promote the case for reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible. The concern is that this could add to the confusion. I spoke to Andy Slavitt. He was head of Medicare and Medicaid during the Obama administration. He says this is not surprising to see Trump advisers trying to undermine the messages of public health scientists.

ANDY SLAVITT: I think Trump is trying to find people to credibly go on TV and say, there's nothing to worry about, folks, and to essentially try to combat what public health experts and others are saying, which is we can open the country. We just have to do it safely and deliberately.

AUBREY: And, again, the concern here is, does this lead to more confusion and about how best to gradually reopen?

KELLY: There we go.

Allison Aubrey, thank you.

AUBREY: Thank you, Mary Louise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.