As a part of its “Leadership During Crisis” series, the Washington Post hosted a live event with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) regarding the District’s response to COVID-19 and DC statehood.
New Phases of the Reopening Plan
Bowser emphasized the amount of progress the District has made in its reopening and future plans to ease restrictions, if the May reopening plan garners positive outcomes from a public health perspective. Bowser said that above all, she is focused on opening businesses and services, and keeping them open. “It’s not only that we want to get open, we want to stay open,” she said.
“We have fans at our sporting venues, we have guests at our restaurants both indoors and outdoors, and yes, now we can have regional meetings and weddings,” Bowser said. “We are very focused, however, on maintaining social distance.”
Bowser emphasized the need to not only reopen restaurants and bars, but to also open office buildings and get workers back to work. She also said the District is focused on bringing back tourists as museums and other tourist attractions begin to reopen.
The District has fully vaccinated 36 percent of its residents, Bowser told the Post. Last week, the city opened 10 mass vaccination sites to increase accessibility for all to the vaccine. Despite this, the demand has fallen for the vaccine has fallen. Suddenly, “supply is exceeding demand,” Bowser said.
Bowser discussed the vaccine hesitancy and the efforts to help educate and encourage the public to get vaccinated. Recently, over 1,000 volunteers went door-to-door across the city to encourage residents to get their first dose.
“This is the real work of public health and communication for public health officials to get people to get out and get vaccinated,” Bowser said.
Bowser expressed excitement and appreciation to the Democratic leadership in the House, Senate and to President Biden for their efforts for DC Statehood. When asked if the Republican argument that it statehood a “power grab” is valid, Bowser disagreed.
“We made the same argument when Republicans were in charge,” Bowser said. “To us, it’s not a partisan issue, it’s a matter of fairness.”
Bowser discussed this fairness in terms of federal tax dollars paid by District residents and their lack of representation in Congress. She called DC residents “donors” to the federal government and called for change.
Black Lives Matter Plaza
Bowser discussed the importance of Black Lives Matter Plaza and future plans for the area just outside the walls of the White House.
Bowser said the art installation is here to stay and will continue to be improved upon as a public space.
“We are improving it, and it will be permanent art installation in the District.”
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]