It added: “The singing action can contribute to the transmission of Covid-19, possibly through the release of aerosols.”
By Saturday, the version of updated guidance was replaced, which no longer contains any reference to chorus or anthem and the risk of spreading viruses. The changed guidance also deleted a reference to “shared cups” among items, including hymns and worship rugs, which should not be shared. The updated guidelines also added language that said the guidance “is not intended to violate the rights protected by the First Amendment.”
Two White House officials said the first version published by the CDC was not approved by the White House. When West Wing officials saw it, they asked the CDC to publish another cleaned document without driving references and other parts.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about political discussions, said there have long been unrest in the White House that there were too many restrictions on cows. A CDC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the policy change also said that the updated Saturday’s guidance was approved by the White House.
Earlier this month, the CDC issued a report warning of “superspreader” events where the corona virus may be “highly transmissible in some settings, including group singing events.” The report described a driving practice in Washington state in March where one person ended up infecting 52 other people, including two who died.
“Members had intense and long-lasting exposure and sang while sitting 6-10 inches apart and possibly releasing aerosols,” the report said. The infections probably occurred during a 2 ½ hour driving exercise with 61 members.
Officials at the White House struggled for weeks with CDC helpers about the scope of the reopening guidelines. Officials in Vice President Pence’s office, the Home Affairs Council and other members of the president’s coronavirus working group were resistant to setting limits on religious institutions even when the CDC issued detailed roadmaps to open other settings, including schools and restaurants, and warned the agency of the dangers with significant virus transmission rates at religious events.
Some White House officials and the coronavirus working group did not want to promote the evangelical community, believing that some of the proposals, such as restrictions on hymns, the size of the choirs, or the handing over of collection signs, were too restrictive, according to two administrative officials who spoke on the terms of anonymity to discuss political decisions.
Some restrictions imposed by state governments have become a battle for conservative religious leaders, an important constituency in President Trump’s political base.
Even as states have begun to reopen, public health officials continue to warn against mass gatherings or environments where people will be in close proximity, noting that religious gatherings have been the source of several outbreaks.
An outbreak at an Arkansas church killed three and infected dozens, according to a CDC report. The outbreak began after a pastor of the church and his wife attended the church’s event for six days in early March and spread the virus. At least 35 of 92 attendees at the church’s events were infected, including the three who died, over the age of 65. Another 26 infections and one death in the community were likely linked to contact with people infected at church events, according to the report.