DC mayor declares ‘limited public health emergency’

A “limited public health emergency” has been declared in D.C. until Jan. 26.

“This will allow DC Health to modify procedures, deadlines, and standards authorized during the declared emergency. By declaring a public health emergency, the District and healthcare partners can continue to respond expeditiously and safely to COVID-19 and its ongoing and changing impacts,” a statement from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office said.

The District joins Maryland and Virginia, both of which have declared a 30-day state of emergency to combat the growing number of hospitalizations driven by the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Bowser’s order said that while the physical capacity of D.C. hospitals remains strong, emergency rooms are overwhelmed with people who have COVID-19 or think they have it, causing delays for patients. Staff shortages are also affecting operations, with some hospitals experiencing 25% of COVID-19-related leave.

The health emergency is effective immediately, and it can invoke the powers of authorities as it relates to hospitals and medical facilities.

Last week, the D.C. Hospital Association asked that a new public health emergency be declared.

“The impact on health care is currently greater than at any time in the pandemic given the significant community spread and resulting increase in the number of patients requiring admission,” D.C. Hospital Association and CEO Jacqueline Bowens said in a letter to Wayne Turnage, the deputy mayor for the District’s Health and Human Services.

Bowser had declared a public health emergency at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and it has been extended throughout. It was extended recently in October through Jan. 7, 2022.

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.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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