CDC director speaks out about schools reopening

Dr. Robert Redfield reacts to criticisms from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on his agency’s guidelines for reopening schools amid COVID-19.
5:55 | 07/09/20

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Transcript for CDC director speaks out about schools reopening
Let's bring in the director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield. Dr. Redfield. Thank you for joining us again this morning. Vice president pence said quite clearly said the CDC is revising school guidelines because the president thinks they are too should the doctors and scientists at the CDC be taking that kind of political direction from the president? Well, thank you, George. I want to clarify. Really what we're providing is different reference documents, so our guidelines are our guidelines but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities that are trying to re-open K through 12s, we'll do guidance for parents and/or reference documents for parents and care givers, reference documents for schools to understand better how to monitor for symptoms, reference documents for how to use face masks in the school setting and reference documents for how to evaluate and monitor so I think it's important. It's not a revision of the guidelines, it's just to provide additional information to help the schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward. The vice president said it was a revision and doing it at the president's direction. Which guidelines are too tough and impractical? I think it's important, George, to realize and you use the word guidelines, that's what CDC has done. They provide guidance. They're not requirements and, again, the purpose of them and I think it's really important to emphasize to parents around the country, the purpose of those guidance is to help local jurisdictions open their it's not a question of opening schools versus public health, my position is that the public health of the students of this nation is best served by getting these schools re-open. It re-opened but re-opened safely, the idea is you should re-open them safely. Re-open safely. The guidelines you had said kids should be six feet apart and social distancing and no commune Cal spacing. Are you revising any of those at the direction of the president Right now we're continuing to work with the local jurisdictions to how they want to take the portfolio of guidance we've given to make them practical for their schools to re-open. As you know, Dr. Redfield, we've been down this road before. The president complained about the CDC guidelines for re-opening businesses earlier in the pandemic. The guidelines were revised and we've seen the spike of cases all across the country. Aren't you worried that is going to happen again? Again, I think the important thing, George, that I want to emphasize is CDC has developed these guidances, these portfolio of strategies that we want to work with the local jurisdictions to see how they could be implemented in their schools. To facilitate the re-opening of schools. The one thing I really want to say that would personally sadden me and I know my agency is in individuals were to use these that we put out as a rationale to keep schools closed. As I said the public health interest of the students today is to get the schools re-open. No one wants to keep the schools closed but everybody wants to make sure they're safe before they are open again. That's what I keep trying to ask you about. Which of these guidelines are looking to relax? Should students be six feet apart? I think we have to continue to work with the schools to look between the six feet apart, wearing face verings, social distancing in seating, looking at changes in schedule to have different crowding. As I said, there is a whole portfolio that the schools can look at to see what's the right mix for them. It was intentionally nonprescriptive. Some people see that the spectrum of strategies that we pu out there somehow say that everyone needs to do the entire spectrum. No, we put out a spectrum to help the local schools which we're convinced like you said are committed to re-opening these safely just like I want to say that CDC, myself personally, to the parents of this nation, we're committed to re-opening these schools safely. Probably one of the most important issues we have to pay attention to is make sure in the process we're protecting the vulnerable, whether students with chronic medical students or vulnerable teachers but the truth is at this point, it's a critical public health initiative right now to get these schools re-opened. Which of these guidelines -- ? And to do it safely. Which of these guidelines are too tough? Which of these guidelines are Again, I think it depends on how the schools put the portfolio together. Clearly we see some individuals are concerned about the six-foot distancing. Others are concerned about face masks. Other individuals are concerned about rotating schedules. But I think this is why we put it there as was said by one of your previous guest, these decisions about schools are local decisions, we're prepared to work with any school and school district to see how they can take these guidances, this portfolio of strategies and do it in a way they're comfortable that they can re-open their schools. Final question, Arizona, Florida and South Carolina lead the world in new cases. Are they doing enough to control it? Is it time for for stringent lockdowns? Well, you know, George, it's really important and glad you asked the question to re-emphasize we are not defenseless against the virus. Okay, we have powerful weapons. Some people don't think they're powerful because they're kind of straightforward but they're powerful. That is the social distancing. That is the face mask. That is the hand washing and that is being smart about selectively shutting down businesses that, you know, I think encourage irresponsible behavior, for example, bars. So, again, as the governors that have seen this resurgence begin to take steps as we've seen in Texas, for example, and Florida, the reinstitution of ridge Lance for those simple things of distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands and closing bar. Dr. Redfield, thanks for your time this morning. Thank you very much, George. Robin.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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