Bowser Appoints Chairs of COVID Reopen Committee

Susan Rice and Michael Chertoff Will Provide Guidance to District

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Former US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and National US Security Advisor Susan Rice will chair the ReOpen DC Advisory Committee. Screenshot: DC Granicus

On Monday, April 27, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the Reopen DC Committee will be Chaired by former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The committee will provide guidance for the lessening of COVID-19 restrictions and reopening of businesses. 

Former Mayors Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty, DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson, District Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt, Former Assistant Secretary Nicole Lurie and Bowser Senior Advisor Beverly Perry will be co-chairs of the committee. The group will be advised by DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt and her team.

“I think you recognize that we’re dealing with a national, global and local pandemic,” said Bowser, when asked about the national reputation and international experience of the two committee chairs.

Bowser said that that the District is lucky to have thought leaders in a number of fields to help formulate responses to multiple aspects of the pandemic, including in the fields of health, emergency preparedness and economic impacts. “I think we have called on a great mix of people that embody all of those needs and have all of those experiences,” she said.

While some states have already begun to lessen restrictions, including parts of Alaska, Oklahoma, California and Georgia. While the District reported 51 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Sunday, the lowest number in some time, Bowser dismissed this as an indicator that it was time to consider lifting restrictions.

“We are not there yet,” Bowser said. “It continues to be critical that DC residents stay at home and practice social distancing.”

 

Mayor’s Situational Update April 27. Screenshot: DC Granicus

The committee is expected to issue a report the week of May 11. Residents can get information and provide feedback to the committee via an online survey that will be available beginning Tuesday, April 28, and at a virtual town hall to be held Wednesday, April 29.

The Mayor said the chairs will provide leadership to the sector committees as they evaluate community feedback, synthesize expert views, evaluate national and global best-practices and make sector-specific plans for reopening. 

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security will advise the Reopen DC Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will have 12 committees whose work will be guided by the Center’s report, Public Health Principles for a Phased Reopening During COVID-19: Guidance for Governors.

The reopening is expected to progress in phases from the current state of emergency response into a period of stablization, during which restrictions will be relaxed, but data also closely monitored. If infection begins to increase, increased restrictions may be reinstated. The final phase, ‘a new, more resilient normal,’ will probably only be possibly once a vaccine is widely available. 

The group is expected to propose a phased reopening with mitigation guidelines for each of the sectors.

Details on how to participate in the survey or to join the townhall were not provided at the press conference but will be posted at coronavirus.dc.gov.

Learn more about the committee and planning, and get update information on how to join Wednesday’s virtual town hall by visiting https://coronavirus.dc.gov/reopendc