- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2020

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Tuesday warned Washingtonians to avoid Fourth of July celebrations where social distancing isn’t possible.

“If you are hosting people this weekend or if you are going to someone else’s home, even if everyone is outside, you still need to consider how much space people will have to social distance and don’t invite more people than you have the space for,” Miss Bowser said at a press conference.

The mayor said that it may seem awkward for guests to ask hosts about the number of people invited and that gatherings must be cancelled if someone in the house is feeling sick.

“One cookout is not worth people getting sick that you care about or people they care about getting infected with the virus,” she said before noting safe hosting practices listed on the District’s coronavirus website.

On Tuesday, the District was on Day 6 of sustained decrease in community spread and Day 5 of hospital bed utilization below 80%. Fourteen consecutve days of decrease in both metrics are required for the city to move into phase three of reopening its economy.

The District reported 35 new cases of coronavirus and no COVID-19 deaths Tuesday.

“We are clearly very encouraged by how we blunted the curve in D.C., also in Maryland and Virginia, but we are also continuing to report new cases so we continue to be vigilant,” Miss Bowser said.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health, said that there won’t be a swift transition to phase three because the nearly 30 daily cases being reported daily are not connected to one another, indicating widespread community transmission.

In anticipation of a second wave of cases in the fall, Dr. Nesbitt said the Health Department is working with health care providers to ensure that there is sufficient hospital capacity for non-COVID services, that residents are vaccinated for influenza and that students are vaccinated against all vaccine-preventable illnesses.

“A lot of our preparedness efforts not only anticipates what can happen with COVID but also with influenza in the District,” Dr. Nesbitt said.

In other news, Miss Bowser said Tuesday that the city government will be seeking requests for proposals soon to develop the municipal building at 14th and U streets as the new headquarters for the NAACP.

The NAACP signed a letter of intent with the District to relocate their headquarters to the Frank D. Reeves Center of Municipal Affairs from its current location in Baltimore County, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

“You know that we have been discussing for a number of years, actually before I became mayor, how the Reeves Center would be reimagined,” Miss Bowser said Tuesday. “It is a building that holds a number of government agencies, it’s an inefficient building in a number of ways and we want to see it reimagined.”

She said the Reeves Center was the brainchild of the late “Mayor for Life” Marion Barry and it kick-started the renaissance of the 14th Street corridor.

John Falcicchio, interim deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said the renovation could take more than four years, in part because government agencies in the center currently will have to be relocated.

Mr. Falcicchio said the new building will be a couple hundred thousand square feet and will be owned by the NAACP. But the land it sits on will be D.C. property, and it will house more than the new headquarters, including some municipal offices, he said.

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