Federal rules loosen up to allow some to return to work

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering amending its guidelines for self-isolation to make it easier for people who have been exposed to someone with coronavirus to return to work if they are asymptomatic.

WASHINGTON (AP) – As a first small step toward reopening the country, the Trump administration could soften coronavirus guidelines as early as Wednesday to facilitate the return of Americans who have been exposed but have no symptoms, especially those which are essential works.

The proposed new guidelines are in preparation as the nation mourns some 13,000 deaths from the virus and struggling with a devastated economy and medical crises from coast to coast. Health experts continue to warn Americans to socialize and avoid returning to normal activities. At the same time, however, they anticipate a time when the most serious threat from COVID-19 will be in the rearview mirror of the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, said that if existing guidelines asking people to practice social distancing until the end of April succeed in stopping the spread of the virus, more flexible recommendations could be made. of putting.

“If, in fact, we are successful, it makes sense to at least plan what a return to normal would look like,” Fauci said on Fox News Channel. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to do it right now, but it does mean we have to be ready to adapt to it.” “

According to new guidelines expected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have been exposed to an infected person could return to work if they are asymptomatic, take their temperature twice a day and wear a face mask, said one person. know the proposal under consideration. The person described the proposal on condition of anonymity because the project had not been finalized.

The guidelines would not be a foolproof guard against the spread of the infection.

Recent studies have suggested that around 10% of new infections may be triggered by contact with people who are infected but have no symptoms yet. Scientists say it is also possible that some people who develop symptoms and then recover from the virus remain contagious, or that some infected and contagious people never develop symptoms.

In an interview last week with a radio station in Atlanta, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield cited an estimate that 25% of those infected may not be symptomatic. In a press briefing on Sunday, Fauci said that between 25% and 50% of infected Americans have no symptoms. He added, “This is an estimate. I don’t have scientific data yet to say. “

As of Wednesday, the United States had more than 400,000 confirmed cases of infection.

On the other side of the globe, the return to normality is more advanced.

In Wuhan, the Chinese industrial city that first reported cases of the new coronavirus, authorities ended a 76-day lockdown on Wednesday. Residents can travel in and out of town without special permission, but must use a smartphone app powered by a mix of data tracking and government surveillance showing they are in good health and have not been in recent contact with someone confirmed to have the virus.

Dr. Deborah Birx, Coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned about premature lifting of the 30-day social distance guidelines in the United States, but said she hoped the country have fewer than 100,000 to 240,000 deaths. had planned earlier.

She said people followed 30-day recommendations to stay at least 6 feet from others, wash their hands regularly with soap and water, use hand sanitizer, and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

“If people start going out again, interacting socially, we could see a very sharp second wave very early,” she told NBC on “Today”.

President Donald Trump is anxious to get people back to work and businesses have reopened after taming the virus.

“Once we OPEN OUR LARGE COUNTRY, and it will be as soon as possible, the horror of the invisible enemy, with the exception of those who have unfortunately lost a family member or friend, must be quickly forgotten, “Trump tweeted. “Our economy is going to explode, maybe like never before !!! “

Reminders of the pandemic will remain, however. According to the proposed new directives, face masks will be commonplace at work and companies will measure the temperature of their employees to detect signs of fever.

Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, launched a cautionary tweet by writing, “Social distancing is bending the curve and relieving some pressure on our heroic medical professionals. But to change current policies, the key will be a robust testing and monitoring system – something that we still have to put in place on a national scale. “

Conservative voices, on the other hand, are pushing for an economic and social upturn, urging Trump to cancel health officials.

“At some point, the president will have to review Drs. Fauci and Birx and let’s say we will open on May 1, ”said Fox commentator Laura Ingraham. “Give me your best advice on protocols, but we can no longer deprive our people of their fundamental freedoms.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, which go away within two to three weeks. For some, especially the elderly and people with existing health conditions, this can cause more serious illnesses, including pneumonia and death.

“Some of the best minds here at the White House are starting to think about what the recommendations will look like that we are giving to businesses, that we are giving to states, but all of that, I promise you, will be informed about health and wellness the American people first, “Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday.

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Stobbe reported from New York.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, disseminated, written or redistributed.

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