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COVID-19 cases slowly and steadily started to increase during Phase 2, in which the Bowseradministration relaxed more coronavirus-related restrictions and allowed select businesses to reopen indoor services at reduced capacity on June 22.

On June 22, D.C. saw 37 cases per day, based on a seven-day rolling average, and as of August 18, D.C. saw 61 cases per day. The city’s health department first acknowledged the increasing trend July 23. 

As cases increased and contact tracing studies suggested COVID-19 spreads in confined indoor spaces, many have been calling on the mayor to re-close indoor dining. The thinking goes, you cannot eat with a mask on and wearing a mask is critical to halting the spread. This week, DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt poured cold water on the idea that she should be advising the mayor to re-close indoor dining. 

“If the data would suggest that we were there, then we would be making that recommendation,” said Nesbitt during Monday’s press conference on contract tracing.       

What activities are responsible for an increase in data? And what has the administration done to reverse the spread? City Paper has those answers, and spoke with public health experts to get their two cents on the state of the pandemic in the District. 

But should the city be closing indoor dining? “It’s sort of a question if we want to push cases down enough to create a margin of safety,” says Joshua Sharfstein, the vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who is advising mayors across the country on the coronavirus. “It makes it safer to open schools.”

Read the full story online HERE.

Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

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

  • As of Aug. 19, D.C. reported two deaths related to COVID-19 and 29 new positive cases, bringing the total numbers of people to 600 and 13,354, respectively. [EOM

  • Do D.C.’s slow streets benefit everyone? The initiative that limits vehicle traffic and lowers speed limits is getting mixed reviews. [WCP]

  • A New York Times opinion piecesays D.C. elementary and middle schools can reopen based on the city’s rate of new infections and testing capabilities. The analysis leaves out the lived experiences of local school staff, who do not feel safe returning because of working conditions. [NYT]  

  • Schools in Montgomery County will not open for traditional learning, but many will open as “distance learning hubs” for a pricey fee. Parents have many questions. [Post]

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

  • The D.C. Board of Elections killed its shitty app and the online voter registration system along with it. [DCist]

  • Social justice and statehood activist Howard Croft died of COVID-19. He was 78. [Informer, Post]

  • GOP leaders applied for a fireworks permit for the Republican National Convention on the mall Aug. 27. The National Park Service is still thinking about it. [DCist]

  • Al Sharpton is potentially bringing tens of thousands of people to D.C. for a March on Washington. [Washingtonian]

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

  • How the national pepperoni shortage is impacting local pizzerias. [WCP]

  • A new food truck serves certified-Kosher brisket sandwiches. [Washingtonian]

  • The pandemic has made money even more scarce for Black restaurateurs. [Post]

  • A deep dive into why landlords aren’t offering their restaurant tenants rent relief. [Eater]

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

  • Restoration Stage co-founders discuss the inequalities that Black theater artists experience. [DC Metro Theater Arts]

  • Aerial shots showcase a night at a drive-in theater in Maryland. [Washingtonian]

  • Summer reading recommendations for 2020. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

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

  • Alex Ovechkin scored twice and the Caps beat the Islanders, 3-2, to avoid being swept in the first round of the playoffs. Game 5 is tomorrow. [NBC Sports Washington, Japers’ Rink]

  • Washington Football Team’s new president Jason Wright says it’s “gonna take some time” before the team has a new nickname. [USA Today]

  • Rui Hachimura, who just wrapped up his rookie season, will represent the Wizards at tomorrow’s NBA Draft Lottery. [Bullets’ Forever]

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

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