- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2020

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday that she has requested more coronavirus vaccine doses from the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed because the first shipment will cover only a small fraction of the city’s health care workers.

“The current proposed allotment is based on the District’s population, but we are in a unique region and approximately 75% of our more than 80,000 health care workers are residents of Maryland and Virginia, and not the District,” Miss Bowser said during a virus press conference.

The mayor did not specify how many of the initial doses are expected, but said it is not enough for health care workers, which is the city’s highest priority group.

D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said the federal government’s “staunch policy” to provide doses based on resident population instead of workforce population is not “an equitable approach.”

“[It] significantly disadvantages the District if our allotment allows us to vaccinate 1/10th or 10% of our health care workforce while other states can quickly vaccinate a third or 50% of their health care workforce,” Dr. Nesbitt said.

However, Miss Bowser said there are no plans to vaccinate only D.C. residents.

“We allow Maryland and Virginia residents to use our test sites, because we know they work here. We think a vaccination strategy along those lines makes us safer as well,” she said.

The Democratic mayor also responded to a question about why the D.C. Department of Health does not disclose case clusters from events like protests.

“[O]ur policy of kind of looking at events that create a lot of activity — including traveling for Thanksgiving and Halloween — we look out a week or so, two weeks from those events, and then you can draw conclusions of whether that additional activity created more cases,” said Miss Bowser.

Dr. Nesbitt added that “when we have data that can be published in the appropriate context when people understand it and it’s not misconstrued, we will do so.”

D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) coronavirus data dashboard as of Wednesday shows one student “participating in in-person activities” has tested positive, as well as five “personnel working in-person.”

A reporter said he was told that the positive cases are not linked to recently opened Canvas Academics and Real Engagement (CARE) classrooms, and asked what other “in-person activities” are taking place.

“Various schools have different types of clubs or opportunities for kids to meet in-person that is not in the CARE classroom set-up,” Miss Bowser said.

DCPS began providing virus data when hundreds of students were able to go back to school in mid-November at more than 50 CARE classrooms throughout 29 schools. The classes allow students to attend school in-person where they learn online under supervision of an elementary school staffer or “trusted school partner.”

As of Thursday, health officials reported 322 new COVID-19 cases in the District, bringing the total to 22,164, as well as two additional deaths, raising the total to 692.

The daily case rate per 100,000 people is 26.97, and the mean turnaround time for tests is 3.7 days, both of which have been in the “red” zone of reopening phases for over a week.

Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he expects to receive about 150,000 vaccine doses in the first wave, but “it’s not enough” to cover the state’s roughly 300,000 health care workers.

On Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he expects the state will receive about 70,000 doses in the first wave.

State Epidemiology Director Dr. Lilian Peake said she estimates 500,000 people make up the state’s priority groups, which include health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

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