Trump Orders the CDC to Change Its School Guidance

Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States:

Trump disagrees with the CDC. Let that sink in. So he’s going to force them to change their expert guidance:

Hours after President Trump assailed guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reopening schools, Vice President Mike Pence, appearing with the White House coronavirus task force, announced the agency would issue new recommendations next week, saying they don’t want the guidance to be a reason why schools don’t open. “Well, the president said today, we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Mr. Pence said. “That’s the reason why next week, the C.D.C. is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.”

As you all know, I’m generally in favor of opening schools too. One reason for this is that European countries have done it successfully. But in case anyone has failed to notice, there’s a big difference between the US and Europe:

It’s one thing to open schools after you’ve successfully crushed the virus. This means that schools are relatively safe if reasonable precautions are taken, and that officials can react quickly to individual outbreaks here and there. It’s quite another thing to open schools while you’re still reporting 50,000 new cases per day with no end in sight and a president who can’t even bring himself to wear a mask, let alone do anything more serious to get the virus under control.

Plus there’s another thing. How can I put this delicately? As near as I can tell, European officials aren’t idiots and can generally be trusted to act reasonably. This is so obviously not the case in the US that I’m not sure I trust anyone here to reopen schools. It probably could be done in a conservative and sensible way, but there’s no reason to think that the people who run our country would act either conservatively or sensibly. Just the opposite: they would most likely come up with ridiculous plans in the first place and then abandon them in panic at the first sign of trouble.

This is all a little speculative. But one thing’s for sure: the last person in the world who should be making this decision is Donald Trump.

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