Two volunteers stand behind a table and prepare plates of food for a food giveaway at a public housing building.
Volunteers make plates during a food giveaway at James Creek public housing apartments. Credit: Courtesy of Dodson Robey

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Thanksgiving vibes were here by the boxload last weekend. Turkey trots such as the one at Marine Corps Base Quantico drew runners for a calorie-torching race before the holidays. Volunteers with DMV-area organizations such as Project GiveBack gathered in warehouses to package food for families in time for Thanksgiving. This year, Project GiveBack is assembling and distributing 4,000 boxes of food for residents across D.C. and the surrounding Maryland area—more than it ever has before, WTOP reports.

Supply chain issues during the pandemic mean many organizations couldn’t distribute turkeys with the meals, so Project GiveBack and others are giving away $20 to families to buy a turkey instead. Violence interrupter Dodson Robey experienced this issue firsthand in a separate community effort when he packed Thanksgiving dinner boxes to give out yesterday but wasn’t able to get turkeys from his usual vendor, he tells City Paper. (He also doled out gift cards to replace the turkeys.)

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen paid a visit to one Thanksgiving food giveaway at the James Creek public housing apartments. Organized by James Creek Resident Council president Christine Spencer, the annual holiday event brought hundreds of residents out to pick up items such as macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and sweet potatoes. Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder, The Whispers, and Luther Vandross songs played from a Bluetooth speaker while children played and their families packed hot plates.

(Un)Masking the Holidays 

The holidays have some residents feeling less celebratory now that the indoor mask mandate lifts in most public spaces starting today. Mayor Muriel Bowser made the announcement last week and, despite the D.C. Council’s pushback, has doubled down on her decision to provide the “flexibility” she says businesses are seeking.

Top of mind for critics of the mask mandate roll back is the lack of specific benchmarks—ranging from how many COVID-positive residents agree to collaborate with contact tracers and the turnaround time for COVID tests to capacity at D.C. hospitals—tied to the measure. Facing the question of metrics during a Friday call with councilmembers and city health officials, DC Health Senior Deputy Director Patrick Ashley deflected. “What are the behaviors that we are seeing in the community, things that can’t necessarily be quantified by a metric?” he asked.

“Part of the reason that we haven’t provided those very defined metrics is because it is some of that subjectivity of what we are seeing in the community with regards to behaviors and policies and sort of the overall approach to it,” Ashley said. He described the “whiplash” of the recent changes to Montgomery County’s mask mandate as an argument against tying the requirement to metrics. Montgomery County’s mask mandate was automatically triggered as COVID transmission rates increased. The mandate went back into effect Saturday, less than a month after it was lifted.

D.C. health officials didn’t give a reason, other than to support businesses, to explain why the city is lifting the mandate. Universities in the DMV are keeping mask mandates in place.

D.C. councilmembers reiterated their concerns with lifting the mask mandate during the Friday call. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh cited holiday travel, which has reportedly risen to pre-pandemic levels at airports nationwide, as a top reason for concern. Other factors include the anticipated winter surge of COVID-19 and the fact that many children ages 5 to 12 won’t yet be fully protected by the vaccine.

“Are we still in a pandemic?” At-Large Councilmember Robert White asked during the call. It wasn’t a rhetorical question, White clarified, but rather one borne of confusion about why the city thinks the best time for the mask measure is now.

Dr. Anthony Fauci also doesn’t agree with Bowser’s decision to lift the mask mandate. It adds “an extra degree of risk,” he said during an interview on NPR this morning.

Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • Metro’s service interruptions will continue to the end of the year. [Post]
  • A man was hospitalized after a D.C. bus hit him while he was riding a scooter. [WTOP]
  • What to know about holiday travel in D.C. [DCist]

By Ambar Castillo and Bailey Vogt (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com and bvogt@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Dionne Bussey-Reeder, Mayor Bowser’s new chair of the DCHA board, owes $15,000 in unpaid taxes. [Post]
  • D.C. ordered to pay politically connected contractor Fort Myer Construction Corp. $251,000 after an appeals court loss. [WBJ, Twitter]

By Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Laura Hayes is away from her desk. Young & Hungry links will return next week.

By Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Sarah Marloff is away from her desk. Arts links will return next week.

By Sarah Marloff (tips? smarloff@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Andy Mead/ISI Photos

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  • It was a victorious homecoming for Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera, whose team beat the Panthers, 27-21, in Charlotte to spoil Cam Newton’s highly anticipated return. [AP]
  • Rui Hachimura, who has yet to play with the Wizards this season due to personal reasons, participated in a Wizards’ shootaround days before he’s expected to start practicing with the Capital City Go-Go. [NBC Sports Washington]

By Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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