- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2021

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday declared a state of emergency and reinstated a mask mandate to address the winter surge of the coronavirus.

The citywide mask order starts at 6 a.m. Tuesday and lasts until Jan. 31. Under the state of emergency, the District will expand testing and require city government workers to get boosters as part of the vaccine mandate with no test-out option.

The District also is adding nine more COVID-19 test pick-up and drop-off sites, which opened at noon Monday: Deanwood Rec Center, Kenilworth Rec Center, Ridge Road Rec Center, Ferebee Hope Rec Center, Southeast Library, Northeast Library, Palisades Neighborhood Library, Takoma Park Neighborhood Library and Riggs-Lasalle Rec Center.

The D.C. Health Department has ordered 1,050,000 rapid antigen tests, according to Patrick Ashley, the agency’s senior deputy director. He said 42,000 tests are on hand and 200,000 are in transit.

The rapid tests will be available six days a week at eight D.C. libraries. Each library will have 1,000 kits a day, but that will increase as supply increases. Residents can get two free rapid tests per day but will need to show proof of residency.

As part of a return from winter break, students, teachers and staff at D.C. public schools and public charter schools will be given rapid antigen tests. The schools will receive 100,000 self-administered rapid antigen tests.

D.C. public schools will be closed for instruction Jan. 3-4 so that staff and families of students can use those days to pick up rapid antigen tests.

The city reported a daily case rate of 42.8 COVID cases per 100,000 residents as of Thursday, a metric that is in the “red zone,” the most recent health data shows.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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