This week, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a suite of guidance documents to help US businesses reopen, as encouraged by the Trump administration.
The guidance comes with a “decision tool” for reopening and disinfecting public spaces, businesses, schools, and homes. Towards the start of the guidance, the CDC makes a key point: “The virus that causes COVID-19 can be killed if you use the right products.”
Much of the cleaning and disinfection guidance elaborates on using “right products” safely. The first step, according to the CDC, is routine cleaning with soap and water. It’s worth pointing out that regular soap and water will do just fine – no need for the antibacterial stuff that breeds drug-resistant bacteria and doesn’t help kill viruses, despite what you may have heard.
For larger establishments, the CDC also recommends using surface disinfectants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce COVID-19 risks. When those disinfectants are unavailable, according to the CDC, bleach or alcohol will do.
Of course, this information isn’t exactly new – the CDC has been championing soap and water for months.
What is new is the context: a country scrambling to contain misinformation while juggling tens of thousands of new daily cases with a desire to end its most effective defense. Federal, state, and local governments are moving in different directions and at different speeds.
All the while, the CDC has been largely absent. With the new guidance, and a 17-page draft document sent to CNN that gives interim reopening direction to establishments like bars and childcare programs, the CDC appears poised for Americans to “return to work.”
Still, the CDC offers a disclaimer:
It’s important to continue to follow federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidance for reopening America.