DC COVID Cases Linked to Social Events, Restaurants, Work

October 14 Situational Update

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About 45 percent of COVID-19 cases in a sample of participants in the District’s COVID-19 contact tracing program were linked to a social event or a visit to a restaurant or bar, said DC Health Department Director LaQuandra Nesbitt.

Nesbitt appeared with Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), DC Health Link Executive Director Mila Kofman and spoke at the Oct. 14 situational update. 

Approximately 25 percent of COVID cases were linked to some type of social event, 21 percent were linked to work-related activities, 20 percent were linked to restaurants and bars and 17 percent were related to travel. A significant number, nearly 22 percent came from workplaces.

These numbers are not mutually exclusive, authorities noted, and Bowser said individuals may have engaged in multiple types of activities. 

Nesbitt discussed the results as part of data from 374 district residents who participated in this contact tracing program between Oct. 2 to 8, which collected information on the activities that took place in the 14 day ‘exposure period’ before their diagnosis.

District authorities said they will share this data weekly moving forward.

Nesbitt commended the efforts of the community on contact tracing and answering the contact tracing calls. 

“We have noticed increased participation of people completing their interviews within three days of receiving a call from our team,” Nesbitt said. “This allows us to monitor activities that residents of the District of Columbia are exposed to or experiencing during their exposure period.”

Nesbitt emphasized the importance of continuing to adhere to social distancing guidelines especially at events with close friends and family and inclusive of outdoor events. 

“People are very comfortable with becoming relaxed at events that are hosted by their friends or family,” Nesbitt said. “It is critically important that we continue to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.”

Mayor Bowser encouraged residents to make public health informed decisions about social gatherings and encouraged individuals to wear masks when around anyone not living in their home both indoors and outdoors. 

“You don’t have to go just because you were invited,” Bowser said. “Don’t get tired of protecting yourself or our community.”

Health Insurance Coverage

The District is encouraging small businesses, nonprofits and individuals without health insurance to enroll in DC Health Link for insurance beginning Nov. 1. 

Kofman emphasized the variety of health plans available to DC residents and emphasized the District’s efforts to make these plans simple and user friendly. 

“There are no late fees, there is no interest for premiums being paid late and we are not terminating anyone’s coverage,” Kofman said. “Get covered and stay covered.” 

Residents will be able to ‘window shop’ for various health plans starting Thursday Oct. 15 through Oct. 31. The annual open enrollment for this coverage will begin on Nov. 1 and run through Jan. 31, 2021. For three quarters of the health plans, the premiums will be lower in 2021 in comparison to 2020. You can learn more about these health plans and register at dchealthlink.com

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected]