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WH&CDC watered down church guidance

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    Posted: May 28 2020 at 6:55pm

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/white-house-and-cdc-remove-coronavirus-warnings-about-choirs-in-guidance-for-reopening-houses-of-worship/



WASHINGTON – The Trump administration with no advance notice removed warnings contained in guidance for the reopening of houses of worship that singing in choirs can spread the coronavirus.

Last Friday, the administration released pandemic guidance for faith communities after weeks of debate flared between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those guidelines posted on the CDC website included recommendations that religious communities “consider suspending or at least decreasing use of choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services or other programming, if appropriate within the faith tradition.

Two White House officials said the first version posted by the CDC was not approved by the White House. Once West Wing officials saw it, they asked the CDC to post a different cleared document without the choir references and other parts.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about policy discussions, said there have long been concerns within the White House that there were too many restrictions on choirs. A CDC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the guideline change also said the updated Saturday guidance was approved by the White House.

added:“The act of singing may contribute to transmission of Covid-19, possibly through emission of aerosols.”

Some officials in the White House and on the coronavirus task force did not want to alienate the evangelical community and believed that some of the proposals, such as limits on hymnals, the size of choirs or the passing of collection plates, were too restrictive, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy decisions.

By Saturday, that version was replaced by updated guidance that no longer includes any reference to choirs or congregant singing and the risk for spreading virus. The altered guidance also deleted a reference to “shared cups” among items, including hymnals and worship rugs, that should not be shared. The updated guidelines also added language that said the guidance “is not intended to infringe on rights protected by the First Amendment.”


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