- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2020

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday urged residents to get tested for the coronavirus and limit their activities if they traveled outside the city to celebrate Thanksgiving last week.

“We also want to remind any resident who didn’t follow our advice and traveled over Thanksgiving to adhere to the District’s travel advisory,” Miss Bowser said during a coronavirus press conference. “Limit your activities for 14 days, or get a test three to five days after your exposure and continue to limit your activities until you get a negative test result.”

Earlier last month, Miss Bowser expanded travel advisory rules to allow private entities including hotels, employers, schools and religious institutions to require people to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entry.

Hawaii is currently the only state not on the latest D.C. “high-risk” travel advisory list.

The mayor last week announced new restrictions, including reduced capacity at gatherings, religious facilities, gyms and restaurants. Additionally, alcohol sales at restaurants are banned after 10 p.m.

Asked about plans to distribute a coronavirus vaccine, D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said “our final plan is not final.”

Meetings with federal partners are taking place “almost on a daily basis” to finalize the city’s plan, which Dr. Nesbitt said has 15 components, including prioritization of groups, vaccine ordering, IT systems and health care provider enrollment.

The city has “substantial capacity” for vaccine storage, and Dr. Nesbitt expects shipments will come weekly or every other week.

“People have to be trained on how to administer the vaccine,” she said. “There are modules that the manufacturers are producing, but it may not be 24 hours [after it arrives] — it may be a few days before you actually start vaccinating people because they have to be trained on how to actually do it.”

The first group to receive vaccines reportedly will be the District’s roughly 80,000 health care workers, about 75% of whom are Maryland and Virginia residents. Moreover, initial estimates project nearly 8,000 doses will come in the first shipment.

Dr. Nesbitt said officials have not discussed requiring residents to be vaccinated.

A reporter also asked about the D.C. Public Schools’ intent to open more Canvas Academics and Real Engagement (CARE) classrooms. Miss Bowser did not give any specifics but said “the plan to expand our CARE classrooms continues.”

More than 50 CARE classrooms opened about two weeks ago with the capacity to serve 600 children who learn virtually with supervision from a noninstructional staff member.

As of Friday, DCPS data show three personnel working in-person have the virus, and 18 are in quarantine. Meanwhile, zero students have tested positive, and 16 are in quarantine.

Virus cases have been on the rise in the District, where officials reported 371 new cases on Friday, the highest number of daily new cases yet.

As of Monday, the D.C. Department of Health confirmed 104 new cases, bringing the city’s total to 21,552, and 680 total deaths. The seven-day average daily case rate per 100,000 people is 26.4, and the mean test result time is 4.3 days, both of which are in the “red” zone of reopening phases and have been for days.

Coronavirus infections also have been increasing in Maryland and Virginia, which prompted both governors to implement new virus restrictions in recent weeks.

In response to a query Monday, Miss Bowser said she believes outgoing Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham “did his job,” declining to answer questions about his replacement or address comments by city lawmakers last week.

D.C. Council members posted statements about the qualities they would want the next leader to have after learning that Chief Newsham is to take over the Prince William County Police Department in February.

Council member Charles Allen, Ward 6 Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, said Chief Newsham’s departure “is an opportunity to instill in leadership the qualities and priorities this moment demands: tackling the systemic racism that exists in our city and within policing culture.”

Also during the briefing, the mayor announced $10 million in housing stabilization grants aimed at helping tenants who cannot afford to pay rent in order to help preserve affordable housing.

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