Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said that the District had secured a lease at an undisclosed location for potential use as a quarantine facility. The Mayor also said that the administration was exploring the possibility of giving the Mayor’s office emergency powers.
DC Health is recommending that anyone who visited Christ Church Georgetown (3116 O Street NW) while the Rector of that church was symptomatic should self-quarantine, Mayor Bowser said at a press conference Monday morning.
The update was provided at a press conference convened to provide updates on the two known cases of confirmed coronavirus in the District. In discussing preparations made by the District, the Mayor noted that a lease has been signed on a facility for use in the event of a quarantine, but did not give specifics on the location.
The Mayor said that her office was currently evaluating if additional emergency powers are necessary. She said a legal review was underway and an update would be provided later Monday. Director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) Christopher Rodriguez said that emergency powers would include the power to prevent price gouging, impose curfews, regulate business hours and impose quarantine.
Asked if she was considering a cancellation of conferences and festivals, such as the upcoming National Cherry Blossom festival, Bowser said at this time she was unaware of any risk, adding that if people feel sick, they should not attend conferences or festivals. “If the science tells us something different and we need to explore cancellation, then we will do that at that time,” she said.
18 people have been tested for COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, in the District. 14 tests have come back negative, three results are pending, and one registered positive.
Christ Church Georgetown Rector Timothy Coles tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday, March 7 and later self-identified on social media. He is currently being hospitalized.
DC Health is asking anyone who visited Christ Church Georgetown on Feb. 24 or from Feb. 28 to March 3 inclusive to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last visit to the church, whether or not symptoms or illness is felt. If symptoms of COVID-19, which include: fever, cough or shortness of breath are experienced, call a health provider or DC Health at 202-576-1117. Call your provider in advance of a visit.
“We don’t see it as a ‘nice-to’, it’s a ‘must-to’,” said Bowser of self-quarantine, acknowledging that the request potentially affects hundreds of people. “We recognize that this will be a hardship for people, not just in DC but in Maryland and Virginia,” Bowser said, where some attendees of the church live. The Mayor said many employees should have some provision for that time through District sick leave legislation.
A second man tested positive at a Maryland Hospital last weekend and so is not included in the above tally. Bowser said he is noted as a DC case because he visited the District for one day, Saturday, March 8, before going on to Maryland Sunday. Tests on the three individuals who stayed with him that day came up negative although all are in self-imposed quarantine.
One of those people was a staff member at School Without Walls (2130 G St. NW), the Mayor said. That person exhibited no symptoms but remains in quarantine. The school was closed Monday to allow time to communicate with staff and families, she said, as well as to perform a deep-cleaning of the school ‘out of an abundance of caution’. Bowser said she expected the school to re-open Tuesday.
This is a D.C. resident who traveled to South Korea and Thailand and then developed symptoms here. The city initially refused to test her, saying she didn’t fit the criteria. https://t.co/2XewFapEJN
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) March 9, 2020
Two public charter schools, DC International Charter School (1400 Main Dr. NW) and the P Street Campus of Mundo Verde (30 P St. NW) were also closed Monday for similar reasons, Perry Stein of the Washington Post noted Monday morning.
A representative from DC Health said that a patient who had visited South Korea, Maggie McGow, was in fact tested for COVID-19. The decision was taken after consultation with the patient and her providers, she said. There was social media outcry earlier over the decision not to test McGow, who had a layover in a South Korean airport. Although a visit to South Korea is considered a trigger for testing, airports are not considered part of the community by the CDC, DC Health said last week. Those results have not yet been obtained.
DC officials reminded residents of DC to stay home if they were sick, wash their hands frequently, avoid touching noses and mouths, and call ahead to providers if you experience: fever, cough and shortness of breath and need testing.
Get updates on Coronavirus in DC and learn more about tests and their status at coronavirus.dc.gov. If you have questions about coronavirus, you can email DC Health at email@example.com