Coronavirus update: Bowser joins Booker to unveil new bipartisan small business bill

The Washington Monument is visible as ​Kristof Grina, co-founder and farm director for Up Top Acres, works wearing a mask at sunrise on one of their rooftop farms in the Navy Yard neighborhood, Thursday, May 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., as he unveiled his bipartisan “Relief for Main Street Act” during a virtual news conference Friday.

It would allocate $50 billion for cities and states, and help very small businesses with less than 20 workers or businesses with fewer than 50 workers located in low-income neighborhoods.

Booker said he wants to “give local leaders what they need to succeed and step aside.”

“I do believe Congress will get their act together and pass something in the near future. And this has a strong chance, I believe, of being a part of whatever package and whatever work that we do,” Booker said.

According to Booker, the programs currently available to small businesses do not adequately meet those businesses’ needs. That includes issues such as what small businesses pay in rent.

“Those relief programs have to be able to consider all those things,” Bowser said Friday.

The District would get $159 million to support very small and local businesses under the bill, according to Bowser.

“We know how to get that money out the door in a fast period of time,” Bowser said. “So, count on us.”

She also called attention to businesses that would be among the last to come back after reopening and how to support them.

“They’ll see some economic activity going around, but their particular type of business may be in a later phase of reopening in cities and towns across America, so that that relief will be especially important for them,” Bowser said.

Booker also pointed out how important small, minority-owned businesses are to D.C.

“These are folks that created dreams,” he said. “And they may not have 500 employees. But these are folks that are out there serving our communities, not just in an economic way, but they’re spiritual centers. They’re gathering points. They’re critical places that have sustained our main streets and our neighborhoods.”

One hundred mayors, including Bowser, have endorsed the plan.

Booker praised mayors’ efforts nationwide, saying they were pushing themselves and their staff to get things done during the pandemic.

More Coronavirus News

Bowser echoes her DC mask order

Bowser said Friday that even wearing a nonmedical mask can help stymie the spread of the new coronavirus. She also clarified where wearing a mask is mandatory, echoing her order from last week.

Masks are required in every essential business, on public transport and in shared rides, such as Uber and Lyft.

“So, please, because of what public health experts tell us is that wearing face coverings, we can blunt the spread of the virus,” Bowser said.

“And as we approach a reopening, it’s very important that we continue to remember that wearing a mask helps blunt the spread of the virus, but continue to practice social distancing where possible, and continue to frequently wash your hands,” she added. “Also goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that if you’re sick, stay home. Because none of this works if you’re out sick and spreading the virus, so please wear a mask.”

Uptick in coronavirus cases, deaths continues

The District reported 135 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the total to 6,871.

And 10 more D.C. residents lost their lives. So far, 368 have died in Washington.

Three neighborhoods continue to be hot spots for the spread of the virus in D.C.: Columbia Heights (391), 16th Street Heights (371) and Brightwood (333).

Coronavirus cases by Ward as of Friday.
Coronavirus cases by neighborhood as of Friday.

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