DC warns of cases from small gatherings, travel; contact tracers to start home visits

Epidemic concept COVID-19. Coronavirus Test Station. Medical worker in full protective gear takes sample from patient at a COVID-19 drive-thru test site. Testing is done by throat swab.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/bodnarchuk)

D.C. is warning of small gatherings and traveling as it ramps up contact tracing and begins house visits to track down COVID-19 cases.

“We remain concerned about the amount of community spread in the District,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said during a briefing Monday.

Around 15% of all cases in the past two weeks reported attending gatherings larger than five people before they were diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt.

“Small group incidents are something you have to pay attention to,” Nesbitt said.

She said that 90% of the cases of people who attended a social event in the two weeks before testing positive reported that the gathering was less than 50 people, which is within the current mass gatherings guideline for the District.

Of the 971 cases between July 31 and Aug. 13, 145 people reported attending a large event during the period that they were exposed. These events included gatherings at places of worship, cookouts, parties and meetings.

Over 60% of those cases indicated that some of the event happened indoors, according to the data. Of those that attended the events, 62% indicated that social distancing was not observed at some point during the event, and 5% indicated that they were unsure.

When it comes to travel, 102 people who tested positive for the coronavirus stated that they traveled during their exposure period.

More than 70% of the cases stated that they traveled by plane, 33% said they traveled through ride share, 8.9% had shared a van or shuttle, 6.7% by public transportation, and 4.4% by train or commuter rail.

Nesbitt said that social events, travel and workplace cases are higher contributors than indoor dining.

Bowser added that she has not dined indoors personally during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From contact tracing, the data said that 12% of 700 people said they were unsure if they had contact with anyone that tested positive for the coronavirus, more than have said no and 36% percent said yes.

More contact tracers, start of home visits

The D.C. Health Department has hired an additional 175 contact tracers, bringing the total to 450 in the District.

Contact tracers will begin home visits Thursday.

Bowser said that they will be focusing on hard-hit neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights, Brightwood and 16th Street Heights, as well as those unable to isolate.

“Our goal is to be able to get to any individual of not being responsive within two days, or has started but hasn’t completed the interview,” Bowser said.

Nesbitt urged the public to wear masks and to self-quarantine if any symptoms begin. “Mild symptoms are still symptoms of COVID-19,” she said.

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.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up