Bowser expands coronavirus testing for DC grocery store workers

D.C. is expanding how it prioritizes coronavirus testing to include critical infrastructure workers who have been exposed but are asymptomatic, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday.

That includes grocery store workers, essential government employees and others who continue to report to work in the District.

“Every day, we have workers out in the community ensuring we have access to food and other essential products and services, and those workers are safer — and so is everyone else — when we know who has the virus and who has been exposed to it,” Bowser said in a statement.

“We already know that testing and contact tracing will play a critical role in every stage of our response and recovery, and this expansion is one more strategy for slowing the spread, protecting workers and saving lives.”

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The UFCW Local 400 union — which represents 35,000 members in retail, food, health care and more throughout the D.C. region — commended the move.

“This is a big step in the right direction toward 100% testing for every grocery worker on the front lines of this crisis,” Dyana Forester, UFCW Local 400’s director of political and community affairs,  said in a statement.

“Every day, they come to work knowing they are putting themselves and their families at risk in order to keep District residents fed.”

Essential workers with coronavirus symptoms had already been declared a priority for testing.

D.C. provides free coronavirus testing at United Medical Center and at the University of the District of Columbia Community College Bertie Backus Campus. More free testing sites can be found online.

The District has been upping its push to let residents know about coronavirus testing.

Robocalls and radio ads featuring former first lady Michelle Obama are launching this week.

“I just want to say that early on in our response, the first lady’s office reached out to us to ask how she could help,” Bowser said at a news conference Monday.

Bowser also cautioned that the District has a way to go before it can relax guidelines and reopen.

“One of our criteria for reopening is, of course, to meet 14 days of sustained declines in cases. And you can see we are not there yet,” Bowser said.

She also stressed that residents should continue to follow health guidelines from her office.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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