Credit: Bailey Vogt

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.

In a back alley in Anacostia, Wendell Whren and Valerie Davis sit on two folding chairs in the shade. In their laps they hold clipboards detailing the day’s tasks following a morning meeting in a Ward 7 backyard. The two are supervisors with the Anacostia Coordinating Council, which is working with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office to encourage residents in Wards 7 and 8 to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have different people from different walks of life that have experienced different things,” Whren says. “Different motivating factors to cause them to get vaccinated. We utilize that to kind of encourage people that are apprehensive or may have reasons as to why they don’t want to get vaccinated”

It’s a monumental and necessary task. DC Health estimates that 72.7 percent of residents age 12 and over have been partially or fully vaccinated, which is higher than the national average. The percentage of each ward’s eligible population that is fully vaccinated population hovers between 47 and 58 percent, except for Wards 7 and 8, which DC Health data show as 37 percent and 32 percent fully vaccinated, respectively.

These coverage disparities have persisted for months and are rooted in both access issues and hesitancy stemming from historical and continued mistreatment of Black residents in the health care system.

The ACC is boosting those numbers by going door to door throughout the two wards. In groups of at least two, members of the team walk up to their neighbors’ stoops and ask if they’d like to get vaccinated. If they do, they’ll enter the resident’s information and another person will set up an appointment and even schedule a ride for them. Whren says he’s heard a broad range of answers as to why they haven’t gotten vaccinated—but the main factor is many don’t trust the shot.

“Religious reasons, scientific reasons, we have heard a plethora of reasoning,” Whren says. “People say things like ‘Well, how did they come up with a vaccine for corona so fast? When HIV has been around for all these years?’ They say things like: ‘Well, the people that are catching the virus now are the ones that have been vaccinated.’”

The ACC’s task has become even more important due to the rise of the delta variant in D.C. and across the nation. Though the mutated virus has broken through and infected some fully vaccinated individuals, the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases are among the unvaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control also touts the vaccine as highly effective at reducing the symptoms of COVID-19 and preventing hospital stays or death. Nationwide reports show hospitalization rates for vaccinated individuals are only about zero to 0.01 percent.

Despite these numbers, some residents of Ward 7 and 8 are still hesitant to get the vaccine. Another organizer, Stuart Anderson, stresses one of the groups they’re focusing on is younger people.

“A lot of those people are also some of our younger population,” he said. “So with the rise of this delta … variation of the virus, you know, it’s even more important to have teams such as a team that I have.”

Mayor Bowser’s office is also pushing to get youth vaccinated, especially in Wards 7 and 8. DCist reports residents ages 12 to 17 in Wards 7 and 8 have vaccination rates of 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively. The city is incentivizing youth vaccination by offering prizes at select vaccination locations. District youth ages 12 to 17 can win prizes like a $51 VISA gift card or a pair of Apple AirPods. They will also be entered into a raffle that could garner them an iPad or even a $25,000 scholarship. 

When asked about why she’s doing this job, Davis says she’s always been a caregiver. Whren says Davis even carries around a cooler of cold water to ensure her team members stay hydrated.

“I have always been a person that take care of others. And I’ve been blessed with that cause you know, everybody have something that God has blessed you with.” she said. “I believe in loving and caring for others.”

Whren says he appreciates the opportunity to give back to the community after he served a decade of prison time.

“That’s one of the things that motivates me is like my past don’t stop me from being able to save lives. When we sign in every morning, that’s what they ask us: ‘Are you ready to save lives?’ And my answer is always yes.”

Davis agrees:

“I always let people know, ‘I took the shot. And I’m OK.’ I’m out here knocking on doors and snapping pictures because I want people to see our team. We out here saving lives. That’s what it’s all about. And I think we have done a great job doing that.”

—Bailey Vogt (tips?

  • To see today’s coronavirus cases and more information, visit our coronavirus dashboard
  • Yellow and Blue line trains will bypass the Pentagon Transit Center after a Pentagon police officer was stabbed yesterday morning. [NBC4]
  • The D.C. Council passed a counterproposal to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget request yesterday. Budget allocations include increased funds for child care workers, housing vouchers, a trust-fund program for low-income children, a “compromise package” for anti-violence prevention measures, and funding a librarian in every DC Public School. [WCP, Post]

By Ambar Castillo and Bailey Vogt (tips? and

Credit: Darrow Montgomery/File

AG Racine Requires Vaccinations for In-Person Employees

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine will require vaccinations for all of his employees returning to […]

Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Post Gives Bowser Four Pinocchios For Maskless Wedding Spin

The fallout from Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s maskless attendance at an indoor wedding reception continues today. […]

  • At least 500 families in the rapid rehousing program are at risk of getting kicked out. [Street Sense]
  • Residents who waited months for unemployment payments will receive $500. [DCist]

By Mitch Ryals (tips?

Credit: Courtesy of Kenny Fried

Competitive Eater Molly Schuyler Ate 34 Burgers in 10 Minutes at Z-Burger.

The 12th annual Z-Burger Independence Eating Championship, held on July 2, only lasted 10 minutes. […]

  • ICYMI: We’re tracking which bars and restaurants are requiring proof of vaccination for entry. Newcomers include 2Amy’s, 1310 Kitchen & Bar, and The Public Option. [WCP]
  • ThinkFoodGroup alum Ruben Garcia is opening a food hall with Union Market’s Richie Brandenburg. [Washingtonian]
  • The case for restaurants requiring proof of vaccination. [Eater]

By Laura Hayes (tips?

City Lights: Enjoy Some Fairy Tales in the Sun

After 16 months without consistent live, in-person theater, it’s a pleasure to stroll past Glen […]

  • The National Portrait Gallery has a new exhibition looking at the faces behind the names of D.C. streets. [Washingtonian]
  • New Women Behind the Camera, currently at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art but scheduled to open at the National Gallery of Art Oct. 31, is a revelatory survey of mostly unknown women photographers. [Post]
  • Meet Mehmet Yalcin, “the man behind the rugs.” [HillRag]

By Emma Sarappo (tips?

Credit: Kelyn Soong

His Father Won the D.C. Pro Tennis Tournament in 1992. Sebastian Korda Is Now Trying to Do the Same.

The last time Sebastian Korda, a 20-year-old up-and-coming tennis pro, was in D.C., he wasn’t […]

Credit: All-Pro Reels

The Max Scherzer and Trea Turner Era in D.C. Comes to a Sudden Close

Max Scherzer and Trea Turner spent seven seasons in D.C. for the Washington Nationals. They […]

  • Rafael Nadal, the 20-time Grand Slam champion, D.C. bike tourist, and admirer of the District’s greenery and low buildings, will be making his Citi Open debut tonight when he plays Jack Sock on stadium court. The devoted Nadal fan base will be out in full force. []
  • Spoiler alert: T.C. Williams alum Noah Lyles, 24, won the bronze medal in the men’s 200-meter final. [USA Today]
  • As a final farewell and thank you to D.C., Max Scherzer and his wife, Erica, have teamed up with the Humane Rescue Alliance to fund the adoption fee for every animal adopted from HRA from today through Aug. 10. [Twitter]

By Kelyn Soong (tips?