Bowser: Hold Others Accountable for COVID Prevention

Situational Update Report: July 29

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Metrics as of July 29 for COVID-19 cases in the District. Graphic courtesy DC Health

Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said community members, neighbors and ANC commissioners need to hold others accountable for violating gathering guidelines and mask orders at her Wednesday, July 29 situational update. 

When reporters cited videos showing the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) failing to adequately enforce safety guidelines, Bowser weighed the criticism of MPD’s enforcement strength against current anti-police protests. 

“Let’s not act like we haven’t spent the past six weeks saying the police shouldn’t lock up young Black people,” Bowser said. “Our communities have to take some responsibility, including ANC commissioners, in saying this activity is anti-public health. We have to bond together.”

The Mayor also clarified the details of her quarantine order. Issued Monday, July 27, the order mandates people travelling to or from high-risk areas for non-essential travel must self-quarantine for 14 days following their return or arrival to the District. A full list of the 27 high-risk states, which will be updated every two weeks, is available here.  

Non-essential travel includes vacations, beach trips and work conferences. After essential travel to high-risk states, people must self-monitor symptoms and quarantine if symptoms emerge. Those who engage in essential travel — including essential government functions, essential business, travel to care for others and travel required by law enforcement — should also limit activity for 14 days. 

Referencing the return of college students, Bowser said travel to the District for university purposes is considered essential. She said students who arrive from high-risk areas are expected to quarantine for two weeks, and added that she’s working with college and university leaders to develop reopening plans. 

Updates to COVID-19 Metrics, Numbers

DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said the District is updating metrics to determine when it is safe to transition to Phase 3. DC is lowering the required metric for the test positivity rate from 10 percent to 5 percent. The test positivity rate is the “percentage of people who have a positive test over the total number of people who have been tested on a given day,” Nesbitt said. 

Nesbitt said these changes reflect changes in thought about where those levels should be, adding there is far more evidence suggesting that a level below 5 percent will prevent a rebound in cases. 

Previously, the DC Health Director said, the District wanted to have the positivity rate below 10 percent for 7 days. That led to higher positivity rates over weekends, Nesbitt said, in part because of decreases in accessibility to testing. The District will move to a rolling 7-day average in the future to account for that variation, rather than reporting rates for each day.

Nesbitt said that if someone thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19, the optimal window for testing is between 3 and 5 days after exposure.

As of July 28, DC reported one additional death related to COVID-19 and 54 new positive cases, bringing the total numbers to 584 and 11,999, respectively.

More information on COVID-19 metrics is available here

Eva Herscowitz is a journalism student at Northwestern University currently interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for Northwestern’s student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern. You can reach her at [email protected]