“It makes no sense” to open up D.C. restaurants while people are still dying during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday.
During a news conference, Bowser was asked about eateries in Virginia and Maryland reopening, and what impact that might have on D.C.
“We have to make decisions that are right for the District,” she said. “You see our numbers, that we haven’t seen a sustained plateau, and certainly not a decrease in our numbers. Today, we reported one of the highest numbers of deaths in the District, and I just, I can’t in good conscience, nor has my medical staff recommend to me, that we open restaurants while we have increasing numbers of people dying.”
She also sounded the alarm about reopening without a vaccine or cure available for the novel coronavirus.
“We know, of course, that as we move forward without a vaccine or a treatment for COVID-19, we must always weigh the risks of each of our actions and adapt accordingly,” Bowser said.
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D.C. Health continues to look into scenarios and projections about what might happen as the District starts to reopen.
The Reopen DC advisory group is also considering how the city can adapt and modify the way it does things to protect residents and lessen the risk of transmission, Bowser said.
“But I want to be very clear,” Bowser said, “We know that when our economy reopens in our jurisdiction, this region and around the country, without a vaccine or a cure, we will see increased infections and we will see increases in loss of life.”
However, Bowser said there is reason to be optimistic. “We are in a much better place than we were just two months ago and dealing with this virus,” she said.
“We have more PPE (personal protective equipment), we have more testing. We have more contact tracing. We have more hospital capacity, more social distancing and more people are wearing a face mask on their essential trips.”
Staying home, getting tested and isolating will help blunt the spread of COVID-19, Bowser said.
“We know that we can get into phased reopenings, get in front of the virus instead of chasing the virus, and that continues to be our goal,” she said.
Bowser declined to say whether she would extend her stay-at-home order beyond May 15.
Transmission in households
D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt raised concerns about coronavirus transmissions occurring in households where people can’t isolate.
“The points that we are reiterating today, which encourage people to isolate — we have concern that we have more transmission that is happening in households because individuals may not be isolating properly within households,” Nesbitt said.
Bowser said D.C. is ready to help. “We know that some people don’t have the ability to isolate in their own home. So we want you to call us so that we can help you work through your options. And you may do that by calling 1-888-349-8323,” she said.
Nesbitt added that the District has ordered an additional 10,000 testing kits.
“There are other clinical laboratories in the city who are planning to use the exact same assay, or test, that we’re ordering,” she said. “So that will increase the number of tests that are available in the city beyond just what will be done through the public health lab.”
DC records 2nd-highest increase in new cases
The District announced its second-highest jump in new coronavirus cases Friday: 245. That brings the total number of cases in D.C. to 5,899.
Friday also saw the most deaths since the end of April, with 19 new deaths, for a total of 304.
Bowser called the numbers “sobering” at Friday’s news conference. “Some days are up, some days are down,” she said.
Also, five more D.C. Fire and EMS members have tested positive with the new coronavirus, bringing the total number to 100 members who have tested positive within the department, Chief Gregory M. Dean said Friday. Of the 100, there are 65 who tested positive and have since recovered and returned to full duty.
The five members are self-quarantining. People who have had contact with them are being notified.
Here are the positive cases by ward:
And here are the positive cases by neighborhood: