In recent days, two Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation called for the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines to opening states and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., wrote President Donald Trump on the matter at the end of last week.
“Congress is currently grappling with the issue of providing a national safe harbor for businesses seeking to reopen safely. This debate is moot, however, if the Centers for Disease Control is unable to publish official guidance informing business owners how to keep their customers and employees safe. Furthermore, absent apolitical guidance written by public health experts, the American people will not have the confidence to patronize their favorite restaurant, bar, or venue. In poll after poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans are saying that the health and safety of them and their families come first. What good would liability protection be if customers do not show up?” Crist wrote Trump.
“That the virus is novel makes this even more challenging. There is too much we do not know. The CDC must not leave states, localities, and individual business owners to fend for themselves. To do so would be an abdication of the duty the American entrusted in the CDC. Recent reports that official CDC guidance was suppressed raise extreme concerns about political influence. This is no time for politics. The virus does not follow the election calendar,” Crist added.
“Why was the leaked guidance not officially published?” Crist asked. “When will CDC issue industry-specific guidance for operating businesses safely? Will the White House endorse the safety guidelines and abide by them? On behalf of all Floridians and the American people, I believe it is critical we receive answers to these questions.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who was named by the White House to its Opening Up America Again Congressional panel, also weighed in on the matter. Deutch asked White House officials about the matter on Thursday and wrote CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield about it on Sunday.
“Like the rest of the country, and the world, the state of Florida has endured devastating health and economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Slowing the spread of the virus forced Floridians to stay home as much as possible; home from work, apart from their loved ones, and many have lost their jobs and businesses,” Deutch wrote. “Now, Governor DeSantis is proceeding with a plan to reopen Florida’s economy. While I appreciate his effort to move forward step-by-step, I am concerned that we do not yet have the tools and strategies to reduce the risk of renewed outbreaks.
“To reopen safely, Florida businesses, consumers, and the general public need specific guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is the premier public health agency in the world. You lead a group of highly skilled infectious disease experts that should be guiding the COVID-19 response and efforts to reopen,” Deutch continued.
“Over the course of the past three weeks, I have received an increasing number of questions from my constituents about specific guidance they will need to reopen safely. They want to give their employees, customers, and other community members the confidence they need to feel safe when they return to their jobs, schools, congregations, restaurants and other venues,” Deutch added. “Last week, I saw very troubling reports that officials within the Trump administration blocked the publication of the exact CDC guidance my constituents have been asking for. CDC scientists were reportedly told it ‘would never see the light of day.’ After reviewing the leaked draft of the guidance, I do not know what could possibly motivate a member of the Trump administration to block it. Some of the information has already been provided on the CDC website. The additional detail would do nothing to damage the administration and could possibly save lives and livelihoods by preparing businesses and other pillars of our communities to reopen safely.
“I respectfully ask that you continue to work with the scientific experts that you lead to ensure that the information Americans need to reopen safely is published, reaches every community and demographic group across the country, and becomes an example to the rest of the world to show how we can overcome the significant public health challenges ahead,” Deutch wrote in conclusion. “Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter. I look forward to working with you to ensure that science drives the American response, recovery, and preparedness in this crisis.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.