Bowser’s newest order for DC: Visitors need to get tested

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a new coronavirus order Thursday as the region continues its fight against COVID-19: If you’re coming to the District, get tested.

“Under the new travel advisory, people who are visiting D.C. will need to get tested 72 hours before traveling to the District,” Bowser said at a news conference. “And for people who are here longer than three days, we are asking them to get tested three to five days within their arrival to the District.”

“Travel should be restricted as much as possible,” Bowser said.

The advisory goes into effect Monday and replaces the previous order, meaning visitors are asked to get a test but don’t have to quarantine for 14 days.

There are some exceptions to the order.

People traveling to D.C. from Virginia and Maryland are exempt. And those coming to the District for essential work can carry out their duties before receiving the results of their second test, according to the mayor’s situational update.

Exceptions are also being made for family emergencies and funerals.

District residents returning to the city from anywhere other than Virginia, Maryland or one of D.C.’s low-risk states are being asked to either limit daily activities and self-monitor for 14 days after they get back or limit their activities until they get tested about 72 hours after they return.

The mayor’s order largely empowers private institutions like universities, employers, hotels, hospitals, congregate care facilities and houses of worship.

Those institutions are allowed to ask visitors about their recent travel and may require a record of a negative COVID-19 test before letting someone in.

Asked if anyone would be checking visitors at train stations or airports, Bowser said, “Private institutions may ask … for people entering their institutions provide a negative test. There won’t be a checkpoint, if you will, at the airport or other transportation stations or highways or bridges.”

As for D.C.’s enforcement of the order: “The Department of Health always has at its disposal the ability to enforce our regulations in the interest of public health,” Bowser said.

At-home coronavirus tests

New at-home COVID-19 tests are available through Labcorp for D.C. residents.

“Labcorp has a test that can be administered at home, doesn’t require a health professional or medical professional to administer the test,” D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said.

She said D.C. is always looking for ways to expand access to testing and to ensure that residents know their testing options, and that Labcorp does accept insurance for the at-home test kits.

According to Nesbitt, the total turnaround time from ordering a tests and receipt of results ranges from about three to five days.

“We do find this to be an appropriate mechanism for individuals who are at home, would like to receive the test kit at home, and not go out to a site, or who have been in communication with their health care provider, and their health care provider doesn’t offer testing within their own private practice,” Nesbitt said.

“This can be another great tool.”

More information can be found online.

DC coronavirus numbers

The District reported 81 new coronavirus cases Thursday. The total stands at 17,682.

There were three new deaths reported. To date, 650 D.C. residents have died.

Track the District’s data online. Below are maps of cases by ward and neighborhood.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for 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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