CDC: NO CHANGE IN GUIDELINES FOR REOPENING SCHOOLS

ATLANTA (AP) — Federal health officials won’t revise their coronavirus guidelines for reopening schools despite criticism from President Donald Trump, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. What they will do, he said, is provide additional information to help states, communities and parents decide what to do and when.

“Our guidelines are our guidelines,” Dr. Robert Redfield declared.

In draft CDC documents obtained by The Associated Press, the agency says there are steps that schools can take to safely reopen but that it “cannot provide one-size-fits-all criteria for opening and closing schools or changing the way schools are run.”

“Decisions about how to open and run schools safely should be made based on local needs and conditions,” the documents say.

They also include a checklist that encourages parents to carefully consider whether they should send their kids back to school in person or seek virtual instruction. Many districts nationwide are offering parents a choice of either mode of instruction. New York City, among other school districts, has announced that students will only return part-time in the fall.

That runs counter to Trump’s messaging. He has been repeatedly pressuring state and local officials to reopen schools this fall, even threatening to withhold federal funds from those that keep teaching and learning remote.

Trump on Wednesday criticized the CDC’s guidelines as “very tough and expensive” and said the agency was “asking schools to do very impractical things.” Speaking of CDC officials, he tweeted, “I will be meeting with them!!!” And Vice President Mike Pence said revised guidelines would be issued next week.

But in an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” yesterday, Redfield firmly stuck to the existing CDC guidelines.

BREATHING AND SPEAKING? YES, SAY DOCTORS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As George Floyd repeatedly pleaded “I can’t breathe” to police officers holding him down on a Minneapolis street corner, some of the officers responded by pointing out he was able to speak. One told Floyd it takes “a lot of oxygen” to talk, while another told angry bystanders that Floyd was “talking, so he can breathe.”

That reaction -- seen in police restraint deaths around the country -- is dangerously wrong, medical experts say. While it would be right to believe a person who can’t talk also cannot breathe, the reverse is not true – speaking does not imply that someone is getting enough air to survive.

“The ability to speak does not mean the patient is without danger,” said Dr. Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association.

“To speak, you only have to move air through the upper airways and the vocal cords, a very small amount,” and that does not mean that enough air is getting down into the lungs where it can supply the rest of the body with oxygen, said Dr. Gary Weissman, a lung specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The false perception that someone who can speak can also take in enough air is not part of any known police training curriculum or practices, according to experts on police training and use of force.

Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly 8 minutes, keeping Floyd pinned even after he stopped moving. In the moments before he died, Floyd told police he couldn’t breathe more than 20 times.

A transcript from one of two police body camera videos released Wednesday shows that at one point after Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and was being killed, Chauvin said: “ Then stop talking, stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”

The medical community disagrees.

HURRICANE DORIAN AFTERMATH

UNDATED (AP) — Political pressure from the White House and a series of “crazy in the middle of the night” texts, emails and phone calls caused top federal weather officials to wrongly admonish a weather office for a tweet that contradicted President Donald Trump about Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy Gustafson concluded in a report issued yesterday that the statement chastising the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, could undercut public trust in weather warnings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and for a short time even hindered public safety. Agency officials downplayed and disputed the findings.

“Instead of focusing on NOAA’s successful hurricane forecast, the Department unnecessarily rebuked NWS forecasters for issuing a public safety message about Hurricane Dorian in response to public inquiries — that is, for doing their jobs,” the report concluded.

At issue was a Sept. 1 tweet from the Birmingham weather office that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”

The tweet came out 10 minutes after Trump had tweeted that Alabama was among states that “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Forecasters in Alabama said they didn’t know about the president’s tweet, which was based on outdated information, and that they were instead responding to calls from a worried public.

The dust-up came to be referred to as “Sharpiegate” after the president later displayed a National Hurricane Center warning map that had been altered with a black marker to include Alabama in the potential path of the storm. The president is known for his use of Sharpies.

NATION'S TOP OFFICER SAYS CONFEDERATE ARMY SYMBOLS IN MILITARY DIVISIVE, OFFENSIVE

WASHINGTON (AP) — Confederate Army symbols within the military, including prominent Army bases named for rebel generals, are divisive and can be offensive to Black people in uniform, the nation’s top officer says.

“The American Civil War was fought and it was an act of rebellion, it was an act of treason at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution, and those officers turned their backs on their oaths,” Army Gen. Mark Milley told a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday.

Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that some see it differently. “Some think it’s heritage. Others think it’s hate.”

He said he has recommended creating a commission to study the matter. The House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for the budget year starting Oct. 1 include provisions for changing the names of 10 Army bases named for Confederate generals. President Donald Trump says he would veto the defense bill if the version that reaches his desk includes a requirement to change the names.

FORMER TRUMP LAWYER, MICHAEL COHEN, RETURNED TO PRISON

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was returned to federal prison after balking at certain conditions of the home confinement he was granted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal Bureau of Prisons said that Cohen had “refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility.”

Lanny Davis, a Cohen legal adviser, said Cohen had refused to sign off on conditions requiring he avoid speaking with the media and publishing a tell-all book he began working on in federal prison. Davis said the book had been nearly ready to publish.

“That was a point that disturbed him because he pointed out that he was able to talk to the media while he was in Otisville,” Davis said. “He said, ‘But the book is already done and I’m not giving up my First Amendment right to talk to the media, to use social media and, of course, to publish my book.’”

Cohen later agreed to accept the requirements, Davis said, but was taken into custody nevertheless.

“He stands willing to sign the entire document if that’s what it takes” to be released, Davis said.

A Justice Department official pushed back on Davis’ characterization and said Cohen had refused to accept the terms of home confinement, specifically that he submit to wearing an ankle monitor. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.