‘We don’t want to see that here’: Bowser warns of virus surge, personal fireworks

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser sounded the alarm on the nationwide rise of new coronavirus cases, urging residents again to stay home for the Fourth of July.

“We are seeing dramatic increases in cases across the country, in states across the country, and we don’t want that to happen in D.C.,” Bowser said at a news conference Wednesday. “So, we’re asking you to do your part and especially be vigilant throughout this holiday weekend.”

“For this year’s celebration, we want to emphasize that the virus is still in our community and poses a threat to Washingtonians.”

Bowser said the District is giving residents the same advice about outings during the pandemic that it would for any holiday.

“Ask yourself: Do you need to be there?” Bowser said. “Ask yourself: Can you anticipate or know who all is going to be around you? If you go downtown, do you know if you’re going to be able to social distance? Do you know if you’ll be getting on a crowded subway car? Do you know if the people who are sitting next to you have symptoms, are sick or wearing masks?”

“So I want, just like I want everybody to think about those things, they go to a family cookout, think about those for any outings,” she said.

The mayor pointed to guidance D.C. released Tuesday on celebrating July Fourth.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Warning on personal fireworks

Bowser highlighted the harm fireworks can cause ahead of the holiday weekend.

“We want to remind everyone that fireworks are indeed dangerous,” she said. “That is true for illegal fireworks but also true for legal fireworks if they’re not used correctly, or if they’re used by children or other people who shouldn’t be handling them.”

Bowser described multiple incidents of injury she said stemmed from improper fireworks use, including children who were hurt.

“Last year, we had nine serious incidents involving fireworks, including multiple children with burns. And, in one case, where a person’s fingers had to be amputated,” Bowser said. “This year, we have already had four serious incidents related to the use of illegal fireworks, including an 11-year-old child who suffered burns.”

She asked that people do their research about what’s legal and what isn’t in D.C. before buying anything.

As for what’s illegal: any firework that moves or shoots a projectile; any firework that explodes, such as firecrackers, cherry bombs, salutes and Roman candles; and any firework that emits sparks or flames greater than 12 feet.

More information about what is legal or illegal, and what the fines are, can be found online.

D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Gregory Dean made note of what most District residents already know: the Fourth of July isn’t here yet, but the fireworks are.

“While Independence Day is still three days away, the fireworks have already begun,” Dean said.

“And the injuries that these many illegal fireworks pose can cause lasting damage. Last week, our members rushed an 11-year-old child to the hospital with second-degree burns on her neck and shoulders. This young patient is just one of four patients who have been injured due to fireworks in the last 30 days.”

Dean also cautioned that fireworks can cause homes to catch fire, which puts lives at risk. He added that fireworks also create stress for people and pets.

“I ask that we all continue to look out for our neighbor. These are difficult and stressful times for all of us. Please consider the impact on the life that these fireworks are causing to many of our neighbors and everyday communities across the District,” Dean said.

Bowser added that though police can confiscate illegal fireworks, it was unlikely that there would be a crackdown.

“It is unlikely, and let me just be perfectly candid, that the police can chase down every cherry bomb that pops in the District of Columbia,” Bowser said. “And actually, I don’t think that’s what residents over the last several weeks have been demanding.”

Bowser did, however, note that illegal fireworks were a “big issue” to her and to others who “are scared they’re potentially dangerous they can light structures on fire.”

DC coronavirus numbers

The District reported 38 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the total number to 10,365.

There were also two new deaths. So far, 553 D.C. residents have died from COVID.

Track the District’s coronavirus data online.

Below are maps of coronavirus cases by ward, neighborhood and community spread (click to enlarge).

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. 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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