“I don’t know anything about the rally but it better be small,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser of the protesters just yesterday when she announced she was extending her stay-at-home order from May 15 to June 8.
The number of daily COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths has yet to fall so officials want everyone to continue to stay home as much as they can for the safety of all. And while a few people decided to protest the stay-at-home order on Thursday, recent polling shows that the majority of individuals across the political spectrum believe these measures are worth it to limit the spread of the virus.
The latest mayoral order means “non-essential” businesses like restaurants will remain closed for another month, and D.C. residents will be required to stay at home, if possible, unless they have to leave for “essential” activities such as grocery shopping. A new requirement for residents living or working in D.C. is that they wear a face covering if they have to leave their homes. The requirement does not apply to children under nine years old, individuals experiencing homelessness, or individuals who cannot for reasons related to health or disability.
“I can revise this order at any time to reflect a phased reopening if the data suggests we can do that,” said Bowser on Wednesday during a press conference.
The metrics the Bowser administration is considering when it decides to gradually reopen the city’s economy are the following:
Ability to test individuals who are symptomatic, at-risk health care workers, essential workers, and close contacts of individuals who tested positive.
Conduct contact tracing for all infected patients and their close contacts.
Capacity in the health care system to care for all patients without using resources set up for surge like beds or ventilators.
And sustained decrease in community spread for 14 days.
The Bowser administration continues to monitor other metrics and, a DC Health spokesperson says, “metrics may be updated in response to the changing spread of the disease.” On April 29, during a virtual town hall on the ReOpen DC advisory group, DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt released 11 metrics the administration was considering before moving to Phase 1. This included a decrease in daily new cases and positivity rate for 14 days, as well as sufficient personal protective equipment for health care workers.
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 daily new 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, DC Health is looking at more granular data of the reported cases that are posted publicly each day—when people who do not live in congregate settings, such as nursing homes and homeless shelters, first display symptoms.