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Mayor Muriel Bowseralmost announced she was reopening schools in the fall, offering parents and students the choice between in-person learning and remote learning. But DC Health put a stop to the highly anticipated announcement. The COVID-19 data did not support moving forward at this point.

DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt cited three concerns with the data on Thursday: 

  • The rate of transmission, or the number of people a patient who tested positive can infect, has been increasing for several days. It’s higher than DC Health’s metric of “less than 1” allows for Phase 3.

  • Cases are steadily increasing, so DC Health is unable to see a sustained decrease in community spread. Reminder: Community spread measures when people first experience symptoms and excludes those living in congregate settings.   

  • Not enough cases are connected to each other by a single positive case or location.     

“Overall, out of the global set of metrics that we look at both posted on the dashboard and look at internally, the District is still in a good place as it relates to COVID-19,” assured Nesbitt. She cited metrics related to positivity rate, the hospital system, and contract tracing as evidence that D.C. is faring better than other states. 

Some might be thinking, how is DC Health investigating cases and contact tracing working if the turnaround time for test results is sometimes over seven days? Nesbitt said the average turnaround time is currently 3.87 days. 

As of July 17, DC Health reported three additional deaths related to COVID-19 and 39 new positive cases, bringing the total numbers to 577 and 11,115, respectively. According to a press release, D.C. has only experienced a four-day decrease in community spread, after repeatedly seeing new peaks in COVID-19 cases during Phase 2; And the rate of transmission has been above 1 for three days, currently at 1.07.

When the city announced it was moving to Phase 2, Nesbitt said setbacks in data would possibly trigger intervention. After this reporter asked if DC Health is making any recommendations, Nesbitt said on Thursday that she isn’t at this time because it is too soon to say what those interventions would be. 

“What we continue to see is the cases are happening widespread across the community with no real level or sense of connectivity,” Nesbitt said. 

Not everyone watching was satisfied with this response. Some hoped for intervention sooner rather than later. 

—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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

  • Union says there is a shortage of school nurses, presenting a problem for reopening schools safely in the fall. [WUSA9]

  • Some journalists fueled frenzy and fantasy as they speculated about what the Post might report on the Washington football team. [Post

  • These four charts show the pandemic’s impact on DMV travel. [WAMU

  • ICYMI: the Bowser administration is “actively assessing” whether to use smartphone apps for contact tracing, per DC Health. Civil liberties advocates recommend public input before D.C. moves forward. They say clear assurances about how contact tracing data is currently being used and stored are urgently needed. [WCP]

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

  • State Board of Education Rep. Ashley MacLeay delivered a racist screed during a debate on police in schools. [WCP]

  • Emails show Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan could have saved money on COVID tests, but went with the more expensive ones from South Korea. [Post

  • Slouching toward fiscal ruin in D.C.? [DC Line]

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

  • Some restaurants are facing thousands of dollars in penalty fees from the Office of Tax and Revenue for failing to submit some forms. [WCP]

  • Two restaurants were fined for not following Phase 2 guidelines over July 4th weekend. [Barred in DC]

  • A round-up of newly opened outdoor dining and drinking options. [Post]

  • Where to eat and drink during your trip to the Shenandoah Valley. [Eater DC

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

  • A writer reflects on the last concert he saw before the pandemic shut down live music. [WCP]

  • Dirt Music works better as an Australian tourism ad, our critic writes. [WCP]

  • How to support local photographers through photo prints. [Washingtonian]

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

  • In a report by the Washington Post, more than a dozen women allege they faced sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former front office members of the Washington NFL team, painting a troubling picture of a toxic culture cultivated under team owner Dan Snyder. [Post]

  • Snyder has become a liability for the NFL, argues USA Today columnist Nancy Armour. [USA Today]

  • D.C. United plays again tonight at 8 p.m. in the MLS is Back Tournament. [Black and Red United]

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

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