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Note: We’ll be pushing the publishing of our daily news roundup by an hour or two for as long as the mayor has 11 a.m. COVID-19 press conferences.
After weeks of resistance, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a stay-at-home order. The order, effective April 1 through at least April 24, directs D.C. residents to stay home except to perform essential activities. Bowser’s directive came shortly after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued stay-at-home orders.
Bowser said she doesn’t “expect we will have to issue any fines or jail time … We expect the District of Columbia to comply” at Tuesday’s press conference. “The point isn’t to arrest anybody. The point is the stay at home.”
Here are a couple of commonly asked questions:
What can’t I do?
The order just re-enforces what everyone should have already been doing. That is, stay at home as much as possible and practice social distancing (stay six feet apart) when you go out for essential business. Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt but encouraged to obtain shelter. For those who live in an apartment building with common areas, the order says residents cannot use the shared gym, rooftop, or courtyard space. Those with private porches and yards can proceed as usual.
Essential business includes grocery shopping. Grocery stores are NOT closing, so no need to buy all the food today. You can still order takeout and pick-up. Essential travel also includes going to houses of worship (even though many have suspended services) and education facilities (for distancing learning and meals). Businesses deemed non-essential closed last week.
Can I still exercise?
Yes, you just can’t exercise in groups. The order explicitly states “outdoor activities should not be conducted with persons other than those from one’s own household.” So go on a walk (bring your dog), run, or bike ride. Pick up gardening. Just stay six feet apart.
Can my babysitter still come to my home and help me out?
Yes. Caregiving is an essential service. This includes baby or pet sitting and caring for a family member. Caregiving means more than just companionship. It includes helping an individual perform daily activities.
How will the stay-at-home be enforced?
Anyone who knowingly violates the order may be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, they can face a fine of upward of $5,000 or be imprisoned for less than 90 days. Perhaps both. A man in Maryland already was arrested for repeatedly hosting large gatherings.
Read the full order here. Here’s how D.C. compares to other states’ orders, including our neighbors. Have any other questions about the stay-at-home order? Or any questions related to COVID-19? Let me know by replying to this newsletter or emailing me directly. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:
At Tuesday’s press conference, Bowser said MPD will go around with loud speakers and tell individuals about the stay-at-home order. [Twitter]
With 94 new positive cases, the largest one-day increase so far, the District’s total number of reported patients with COVID-19 is 495. As of Sunday night, 3,759 patients have been tested in public and private labs. [EOM]
Epidemiologists at the University of Washington predict that stress on D.C. hospitals will peak around April 17, and that by summer the coronavirus illness will have killed 384. The modeling accounts for social distancing measures, so it is subject to change as it does not include the new stay-at-home order. Notably, Maryland and Virginia’s peaks come later, meaning they have more time to prepare. [UW]
Construction is considered “essential” business, including home building and commercial developments. [Post]
In non-coronavirus news: Metro Board is set to vote on its 2021 budget on Thursday, which includes a base fare increase and expansion in operating hours. [WAMU]
LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? email@example.com)
A sixth inmate in the DC Jail tested positive for COVID-19. [Twitter]
Testing center for first responders opens in D.C. [NBC]
ICYMI: what it’s like to police in D.C. during a pandemic. [Post]
YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
Five bars and restaurants give up on take-out and delivery, opting to close instead. [WCP]
What being laid off is like for the general manager of Thamee. [Medium]
Whole Foods workers are striking today. [VICE]
Instacart workers are also on strike. [Post]
ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? email@example.com)
Washington National Opera’s costume team is now making face masks for medical personnel. [DCist]
Captain Underpants author and illustrator Dav Pilkey is hosting virtual drawing classes in collaboration with the Library of Congress. [Washingtonian]
Olney Theatre Center is developing programs to reach its audience at home. [DC Theatre Scene]
SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
D.C. Lottery has indefinitely postponed the launch of sports betting in the District. [WCP]
All NCAA Division I spring sport athletes will have another year of eligibility. Many had their seasons (or in the case for college careers, their careers) cut short when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports. [NPR]
We’re bringing you the best things to watch, read, make, and do from the comfort of your home while social distancing.
You can’t go to 9:30 Club right now, but its staff has put together a playlist for you to dance to.
May as well use this time as a chance to learn something new—luckily, local universities have a wide selection of free online courses for you.