With States Reopening, CDC Tries to Reinforce Social Distancing Guidance

June 12, 2020

The advice comes a week before Donald Trump seeks to hold an indoor re-election rally for his presidential campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The CDC Friday released guidance for the public seeking to reengage in socializing or large events while continuing to recommend that people use social distancing, hand washing, and face masks in order to decrease the number of cases of coronavirus disease 2019.

In March, the CDC recommended that in areas with minimal to moderate community transmission large mass gatherings, such as with 250 people or more, be canceled.

The new advice comes a week before President Donald Trump seeks to hold an indoor re-election rally for his presidential campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19; to attend the gathering, the campaign is asking attendees to sign a waiver not to sue if they contract the virus.

With its updated guidance, the CDC said every interaction outside of one’s home involves some measure of risk of contracting the virus, and the risk depends on the length of time one is outside, how many people are involved, and how close people are physically to one another.

The highest degree of risk, the CDC report said, would be large indoor events with many people close together, with no social distancing and for which they travel long distances to attend. Such an event might describe a political rally or convention, depending on what precautions were taken.

“I know that people are eager to return to normal activities and ways of life,” said CDC director Robert E. Redfield, MD, during a call with the media—the first such call that has been held since February.

Redfield called the recommendations “common sense suggestions” that can be adapted to local levels of transmission. As of Friday, there are more than 2 million cases across the United States and over 113,000 deaths. While the curve is flattening nationally, some states, such as Arizona, have seen an upswing of new cases in the past 7 days.

The CDC said the new guidance, which called cloth face masks essential for times when physical distancing is not possible, was not aimed specifically at political events.

Also on Friday, the CDC released the results of an online survey showing that the majority of Americans agree with the actions that have been taken to slow the spread of the virus. The survey, conducted in New York City, Los Angeles, and other areas of the country, found that 80% supported stay-at-home orders and the closure of nonessential businesses, 82% agreed that groups of 10 or more should not be allowed, and 88% agreed that people should always keep 6 feet apart.