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While parts of Maryland and Virginia enter Phase Three, D.C. is a ways away from furthering the reopening of its economy. D.C. has yet to meet several coronavirus metrics, including that 60 percent of new positive cases derive from people who are under quarantine. The metric lets public health experts know how much community transmission D.C. still has. As of Sept. 12, only 3.4 percent of cases came from quarantine contacts.
The thing is D.C. entered Phase Two without technically meeting all of its Phase Two metrics. And newly released emails suggest staff within the Executive Office of the Mayor delayed the release of coronavirus data that might have cautioned against entering Phase Two. After they delayed and then removed data related to community spread, staff re-published it on the coronavirus dashboard in such a way that made it appear as if D.C. was ready to relax more restrictions and allow limited indoor activities. The emails were part of a Freedom of Information Act request by resident Allison Hrabar. Her Twitter thread on the emails led to some accusing the mayor of deception.
The mayor’s team rejects any suggestion that the Bowser administration cooked the books. The emails expose only part of the communication process, a process that strives to present the data in a way that’s understandable to the public, said a spokesperson for the executive. The spokesperson emphasized D.C. met the metric that D.C. experienced a 14-day decrease of community spread four days before the city entered Phase Two on June 22.
However, D.C. reports community spread data on a lag, because DC Health measures it by the date a person experiences symptoms as opposed to when a person receives a positive test result. (This requires more analysis, so it takes time to publicly report.) When DC Health discovered a peak in cases on June 11—which the agency only reported June 20—it set the D.C. back to a 11-day decrease two days before Phase Two started. “I explained then it was my decision to move forward,” said Mayor Bowser when asked about this at Monday’s press conference. She also said she was not aware of any data being removed, and she’s “sure it was posted.”
Absent a federal strategy, D.C. has provided more information than most states about its coronavirus response. But releasing information clearly hasn’t been without missteps. Looking back at how officials handled Phase Two offers lessons for Phase Three. And officials are always saying during press conferences they want to rethink how best to present the coronavirus data to the public.
At today’s press conference, Mayor Muriel Bowser encouraged those impacted by flooding and sewage back-up as a result of last Thursday’s storm to visit the DC Water website to learn about filing a claim and how to apply for the Backwater Valve Rebate Program. Members of the media expressed that there are residents who are fearful that their claims will not be covered. Bowser says she hopes that DC Water will have a FAQ page ready today and notes that there might be a town hall later this week.
—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? email@example.com)
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- As of Sept. 13, D.C. reported no additional deaths related to COVID-19 and 30 new positive cases, bringing the total numbers to 616 and 14,622, respectively. [EOM]
- A person was struck and killed by a Metro train this morning at Gallery Place. [WUSA9]
- The U.S. Attorney for D.C. charges a third protester with a felony assault for allegedly throwing a firework at a police officer. [DCist]
- Home prices in the D.C. region reached decade-highs in August. Prices did not deter buyers—homes were “flying off” the market. [Urban Turf]
LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
- The D.C. Council will consider new scooter rules. [Post]
- ‘Trump’s hostility toward cities threatens to worsen the recession,’ Robert McCartney writes. [Post]
- GW senior Yannik Omictin is running for ANC. [GW Hatchet]
- ICYMI: Robert White and Elissa Silverman balk at $1 million price tag for inauguration booth. [WCP]
YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? email@example.com)
- Former Bad Saint Chef Tom Cunanan takes over the Mercy Me patio this week as a part of a new dinner series. [WCP]
- Granville Moore’s is in danger of closing permanently. [Barred in DC]
- How to minimize your takeout trash. [Post]
- CDC finds adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant than those who tested negative. [Eater]
ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Advocates for local music are proposing the Music Venue Relief Act, legislation that would help venues stay afloat. [DCist]
- How Dajando Smith’s special bass, which disappeared 27 years ago, got back to him. [Washingtonian]
- GALA Hispanic Theatre announces its latest season and plans to reopen in October. [DC Metro Theater Arts]
SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? email@example.com)
- Olympian Julie Culley leaves college coaching in search for more balance. [WCP]
- It’s Victory Monday for the Washington Football Team, who rallied to beat the Eagles, 27-17. In the process, defensive end Ryan Kerrigan broke the franchise’s all-time sack record. [NBC Sports Washington]
- John Wall tweeted an apology to his family and teammates after a video surfaced of him allegedly throwing up gang signs at a recent party in New York City. [ESPN]
- Shakespeare Theatre has moved its annual Will on the Hill fundraiser online, with Romeo and Juliet as a jumping off point for this year’s play starring two dozen members of Congress. [WCP]