The CDC’s guidance on reopening was also reportedly delayed for weeks over concerns that it was “too prescriptive” and failed to align with the White House’s goal of giving states the final say.
“It really wasn’t delayed,” Redfield told POLITICO, arguing revisions requested by the task force were part of the process since “a lot of our guidance has implications beyond the CDC.”
“Several individuals on the task force said it was hard for the average person to understand,” said Redfield of one of the revision requests. The White House previously told POLITICO the CDC’s guidance, which provided specific examples of how restaurants, bars, schools and churches could safely reopen, amounted to “counter messaging” against the president’s own plan.
The agency this week quietly published more detailed guidelines for reopening schools and businesses that were shut down in the pandemic.
Redfield on Thursday downplayed any tensions between his agency and the White House and said the CDC has had “extensive communication” with the public throughout the coronavirus response.
He said the agency was actively engaged in messaging around the coronavirus but declined to commit to reinstating CDC briefings that were held near daily in the first two months of the outbreak. Those were replaced by the regular White House task force briefings, which were discontinued this month.
Redfield did not say whether the CDC would reinstate regular press briefings on the coronavirus. A CDC spokesperson said the agency provides updates and information to the public through its website and social media accounts.
The CDC chief also said the agency is focused on preparing for the fall and upcoming influenza season and how it will impact the coronavirus response.
President Donald Trump has previously downplayed those risks and last month publicly ordered Redfield to clarify his remarks warning about the possibility of a challenging flu season.
Redfield declined to comment on whether he has pushed the president to prioritize preparing for flu season, but said several members of the task force acknowledge it will be an important issue to address.
Caitlin Oprysko contributed to this report.