D.C. officials explained Wednesday when the best time to get tested is for someone who thinks they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and tightened a key metric the city is looking at for a potential Phase Three reopening.
“When we have people who are close contacts to a positive individual, we recommend that three- to five-day time period after you had a known exposure,” D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said during a news conference.
“And that’s, again, when people begin to develop active virus or when the most likely time that you’ll have active virus replicating on a PCR test,” she said.
If you think you’ve been exposed, Nesbitt said it’s actually not recommended to rush to get tested.
“If you’ve had a close contact, or you believe you were exposed, getting a test immediately one day after, typically not advisable, because whether or not you’ll have virus replicating and a positive test show up that first day is probably not as likely,” she said.
D.C. also lowered the positivity rate it needs to see to enter Phase Three. That metric had been at 10% and is now 5%.
“We now have far more evidence that suggests in order for rebound not to occur, for you to have a second peak or a second wave after you turn on more activity, that percentage should be below five. And, in some instances, if you can keep it below three, even better,” Nesbitt said.
She explained that the test positivity rate is the percentage of people who have a positive test over the total number of people who have been tested on a given day.
Additionally, Nesbitt said D.C. will now use a seven-day rolling average of test positivity instead of looking at individual days for data, mostly due to a dip in the total number of people tested on the weekends, which resulted in higher test positivity rate on a single day.
Mayor Muriel Bowser reminded people about D.C.’s order to self-quarantine for anyone visiting or returning to the District for nonessential activities.
“Now is just not the time to travel to many locations where the virus is circulating or where you are more likely to be exposed, infected and then bring back that infection, that virus, to others,” Bowser said.
She was asked about enforcement of her expanded face mask order during the news conference, specifically as it pertains to big retailers who will still serve customers without masks over fears of confrontations between them and store employees.
“They (the stores) should call the police and the police will enforce it,” Bowser said. “MPD will be made aware of the complaint. They should call the police.”
Bowser asked Washingtonians to fill out the DCFACES survey online.
“I want to remind D.C. residents about a working group that we launched to consider public spaces in D.C. that might not reflect or represent our values as a community,” she said, “and to put together recommendations for actions we can take, whether that’s removing symbols or renaming spaces.”
DC coronavirus numbers
The District reported 54 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 11,999.
One more D.C. resident lost their life to the virus. The death toll stands at 584.
Track the District’s coronavirus data online.
Below are maps of coronavirus cases by ward, neighborhood and community spread (click to enlarge).