In the Nov. 30 situational update, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), DC Health DirectorDr. LaQuandra Nesbitt and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson discussed updates on the District’s response to the pandemic.
Dr. Nesbitt first spoke about the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine and how it would be distributed. Nesbitt noted that the doses would likely come in smaller increments that the District would receive weekly or biweekly on an ongoing basis.
Nesbitt said that while the District may receive the vaccine quickly, healthcare professionals need to be trained on how to administer the vaccine noting that “it may take a few days” to train providers and distribute the vaccine to DC residents.
According to Nesbitt, phase one of the vaccine will target approximately 80,000 healthcare workers who live or work in the District. Nesbitt noted, however, that the District is expected to receive only about 8,000 doses of the vaccine within the first phase.
COVID-19 and Testing
Bowser again emphasized the importance of continuing to social distance and take precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. She also encouraged residents who traveled or gathered in large groups to limit activity for 14 days or to get tested within three to five days. Maryland and Virginia are exempt from the current travel advisory.
Bowser encouraged residents to take advantage of the new testing site at Nationals Park and the extended hours offered at testing sites across the District as cases surge. All testing sites and their hours of operation can be found here. Bowser also encouraged residents to preregister for testing to save time.
Housing Stabilization Grants are being issued to renters across the city to help with the financial burden of the pandemic. This rental assistance program will provide funding directly to housing providers in the District with ten million dollars in funding. The rental tenant must apply for the program which will pay 80% of the delinquent rent cost if the housing provider pays the remaining 20% and any outstanding fees.
Bowser discussed the importance of this program amid the economic fallout of the pandemic.
“We know that a number of our residents have been devastated financially and have been unable to pay rent,” Bowser said. “That has had a ripple effect on the affordable housing in the city.”
Bowser said many housing providers were not aware of these opportunities for funding and encouraged residents to apply this week.
“Despite considerable efforts to promote emergency rental assistance, most housing providers were unaware of the myriad of District protections and programs that were available to their tenants to help tenants pay rent, no program (was) familiar to more than half of the respondents,” Bowser said.
Applications for this program open tomorrow, Dec 1., and close Friday Dec. 11. Funding will be issued on a rolling basis throughout this period.
Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.