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White House Defends Decision to Shelve Coronavirus Reopening Plan

FILE - A woman wearing a face mask walks past the White House in Washington, April 1, 2020.

The Trump administration is defending its decision not to release a detailed coronavirus reopening plan for the U.S., maintaining they would have been too narrowly-focused for the country’s 50 states.

The administration’s defense comes in response to an Associated Press report that it shelved a report prepared by senior U.S. disease investigators detailing how and when local authorities should begin to reopen businesses and other public places during the current coronavirus crisis.

“Issuing overly specific instructions—that CDC leadership never cleared—for how various types of businesses open up would be overly prescriptive and broad for the various circumstances States are experiencing throughout the country,” the White House said Thursday in an email to VOA.

The statement noted that President Donald Trump issued more generalized reopening guidelines on April 16. The White House said after the 17-page report was leaked, the White House coronavirus task force requested revisions to follow Trump’s guidelines so that they “work for all across America whether in rural areas or urban.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control report, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework," was researched and written to guide state and local officials, business owners, educators and faith leaders through the reopening process.

The CDC report was scheduled to be released last Friday, but AP reported it was told by an unnamed CDC official who was not authorized to speak publicly that CDC scientists were informed it “would never see the light of day.”

AP said it received a copy from another federal official who did not have the authority to release it.

The CDC has traditionally provided guidance during previous public health crises, but Trump has put the burden on states to handle the coronavirus crisis.

The decision not to disclose the report came as the U.S. continued to lead the world by far in COVID-19 infections and deaths, with more than 1.2 million cases and more than 75,500 fatalities, according to John’s Hopkins University statistics.