CDC says schools should reopen, but with new guidance

(CNN) The U.S. has some encouraging news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of the country is seeing the number of new infections go down.

Hospitalizations are also on the decline, they’ve plummeted by 44%over the past week.

But the promise from the Biden administration to reopen schools remains unfilled as new guidance from the CDC is focusing on more than just the science.

Students may be on vacation Monday, but there’s mounting confusion and frustration from parents and teachers isn’t taking a day off after the CDC rolled out its new guidelines for reopening schools Friday which focus on five strategies for in-person learning including universal mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand washing, cleaning and contact tracing.

But the CDC also recommended full in-person learning only in places where levels of community transmission are low. The problem? According to a CNN analysis of federal data, almost 90% of American children attend schools in high community spread areas located in so-called red zones.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, “As that transmission comes down we will be able to relax some of these measures.”

The issue has become a political landmine for the Biden administration trying to get kids back in classrooms, while also appeasing teachers unions and parents in hard-hit areas, many of which have demanded vaccinations and other measures before going back to in-person learning.

The CDC director admitted the guidelines changed after holding meetings with parents and teachers. Dr. Walensky said, “Direct changes to the guidance were made as a result of them.”

Walensky told Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that science is behind all the guidance. “The real point is to make sure that the science is consistent with our guidance, which is consistent to say, until we can ensure that we have all those measures happening that there would… schools wouldn’t be safe.”

This as health experts expressed cautious optimism as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the country continue to show signs of improvement. Daily cases fell from more than 300,000 in January to less than 100,000 now.

However, there’s also grave concern over the spread of more variants, seven different ones already found in the United States.

Dean of Brown University School of Public Health Dr. Ashish Jha said, “I’m concerned about these variants because we’re not doing enough surveillance. So we don’t know how widespread they are.”

Despite warnings, this past weekend was one of the busiest for air travel during a pandemic. More than four million people have flown since Thursday.

States such as New Mexico and Montana have lifted mask mandates. New York is now allowing limited indoor dining while the demand for available vaccines still outweighing the supply

Dr. Megan Ranney is an emergency physician at Brown University. She said, “I know the Biden administration is hard at work at getting states more accurate information about how many vaccines are out there, but it is got to be done real quickly because it is impossible for states to plan.”

The US death toll from COVID-19 is above 485,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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