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It is rare that City Paper reports good news when it comes to COVID-19, but today we get to. D.C. has seen nine days of decrease in community spread, according to May 17 data released Tuesday. A sustained decreased in community spread is a key metric the Bowser administration is using to decide when to begin to gradually reopen the city. D.C. needs to see a 14-day decrease, along with meeting four other metrics, to begin to move to Phase 1. 

The other four metrics include: 

  • A transmission rate below 1 for three days. (D.C. has done this for seven days.) 

  • The ability to test everyone who is symptomatic or is an at-risk health care worker, essential worker, or close contact of someone who tests positive. (D.C. can do this.)  

  • Sufficient capacity in the existing health care system. Meaning no need to use surge beds or ventilators. (D.C.’s occupancy rate has been below the requirement of 80 percent for over 14 days.) 

  • The ability to attempt contact tracing for all newly infected patients within one day and their close contacts within two days. (Not quite there yet.) 

More good news: Bowser said “our tracing capability is almost where we need it to be,” on Monday during her press conference about the budget. She also said her administration will be talking about plans to reopen various sectors of the economy, which will be informed by her advisory group, on Thursday.   

Remember, the stay-at-home order extends through June 8, but Bowser noted when she made this decision that she can revise the order to reflect a phased reopening based on public health data. 

The Bowser administration continues to look at other metrics in addition to the ones needed to reopen. At one point, DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt released 11 metrics she was considering before moving to Phase 1. They included having a low test-positivity rate—remember when that phrase was more common in the public lexicon just a month ago? A DC Health spokesperson says “metrics may be updated in response to the changing spread of the disease,” when I asked about the department’s focus on the five metrics.  

On May 13, Nesbitt announced her department is looking at a sustained decline of community transmission to enter Phase 1 as opposed to a sustained decline in new positive cases because there is a lag between when a person first gets sick and when they get their test results back and sent to DC Health. To truly measure a decline in COVID-19 cases—or as Newsbitt said to “appreciate the disease patterns”—DC Health is looking at more granular data of the reported cases that are posted publicly each day. WAMU’s Martin Austermuhle has a great breakdown on why the data that we see on coronavirus.dc.gov—if you, like me, are obsessively checking—isn’t the data DC Health is looking at when deciding when to gradually reopen. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • There is no mayoral press conference today on COVID-19. 

  • D.C. reported eight additional deaths, bringing the total number of lives lost to 400. As of May 19, 7,434 of the 39,374 individuals who tested for COVID-19 turned up positive results.    

  • Goodbye, open office spaces? [WAMU]

  • D.C., Maryland, and Virginia are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce a court-ordered agreement to cut pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. [Post, OAG

  • ICYMI: A rundown of the mayor’s FY2021 budget. She defends her budget before the Council Tuesday. [WCP]  

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • President Trumpwill appoint a new US Attorney in D.C., who will prosecute most local crimes. [Post]

  • Some Virginia voters are casting in-person ballots. [WTOP]

  • Some councilmembers are pushing for street closures. [NBC]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • This style of take-out makes it feel like a chef invited you to their home for a dinner party. [WCP]

  • Baan Siam, the reimagined Baan Thai, opens for take-out on June 4. [Washingtonian]

  • The Inn at Little Washington will try to accommodate diners who don’t want their server to wear a mask. [NYT]

  • What went down between Trump and (mostly white and all male) restaurant industry leaders at the White House yesterday. [Post]

  • Some restaurants want to close permanently but can’t. [Eater]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Globe Online brings a nearly 2,500-year-old drama to Zoom. [WCP]

  • Misty Copeland surprised Corbin Holloway, a 13-year-old dancer at CityDance Conservatory, with a $10,000 scholarship for his training. [CityDance]

  • Author and naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley discusses the art of connecting with nature during quarantine. [WAMU]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Washington wide receiver Cody Latimeris set to return to court on July 24 for various charges following an alleged incident where he threatened a friend with a gun and discharged his weapon after an argument at a poker game in Colorado. [ESPN]

  • Want to feel old? Next month will be the 10 year anniversary of the Wizards drafting John Wall. [Bullets Forever

  • According to the Post’s Steven Goff, most MLS teams are cleared for voluntary individual workouts. D.C. United is not one of them. [Twitter]

CITY LIGHTS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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