Credit: Photo illustration by Julia Terbrock

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Cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been officially diagnosed in the District. 

DC Health released a statement Sunday saying the Omicron variant, first reported in South Africa, has been detected in four “unrelated” people around D.C. The individuals are described as three adult females and one adult male who were all fully vaccinated. One woman had traveled to Florida and New York, one woman traveled to Maryland for Thanksgiving, and the third traveled to Virginia for the holiday. The man had no reported travel history. The first adult female was eligible for a booster but had not received it, according to the statement; the booster status of the other individuals is unknown. DC Health has contacted all those deemed close contacts. 

The press release stressed that Omicron is classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern” but “scientists are still working to determine how it compares with the predominant Delta variant in terms of transmissibility and disease severity.” Pfizer announced last Wednesday that it conducted a laboratory study that suggested three doses of its COVID-19 vaccine “neutralized” the variant. 

To combat Omicron, D.C. continues to recommend typical preventative measures like washing hands, wearing masks, and keeping physical distance. It also recommends everyone 5 years and older get vaccinated. The news about Omicron has also put D.C.’s recently lifted mask mandate in question. Mayor Muriel Bowser instituted a mask advisory Dec. 2, days after dropping masks in most establishments.

Road Safety Concerns Rise

Two 9-year-olds were hit by cars in D.C.—on the same afternoon.

Peter Dziekan was biking home from school Friday in Kingman Park. Then, near the intersection of 21st Street NE and Gales Street NE, a driver sideswiped him and immediately drove away. A neighbor’s security camera captured Dziekan crashing to the ground.

“It didn’t try to stop for me one bit,” he told WUSA9. “It just happened so fast I couldn’t process emotions.”

Not even an hour prior, another 9-year-old was hit on Wheeler Road SE as they left their charter school. D.C. police have yet to release the child’s name but said last Friday they were in critical, but stable, condition. The driver remained on the scene.

Dziekan and the other child are additions to a growing list of those hurt or killed by cars this year—an alarming number of them being young children. The charter school student was hit two blocks down Wheeler Road SE from where 8-year-old Faith Belton, 6-year-old Heavyn Belton, and their father were hit in a crosswalk. A speed camera is being installed about one block away from where the charter student was hit, though it’s unclear if speed was a factor. D.C. has also implemented increased traffic enforcement in some school zones.

As the children recovered this weekend, a community memorialized another child killed by a car. Allie Hart died after a city-contracted vehicle hit her while she was riding her bike in a Brookland crosswalk. Her neighbors covered the intersection where she was killed with chalk drawings—symbolizing a life cut too short.

Bailey Vogt (tips? bvogt@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • Starting next month, D.C. is swapping COVID-19 saliva tests at school for at-home nasal swab tests for DCPS pre-K students. [Post]
  • After 19-year-old Getro Banamina was fatally stabbed last week, a downtown Silver Spring church held a vigil for him and other victims of violence in the area yesterday. [NBC Washington]

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

  • Brian Schwalb will run for attorney general. He used to work with outgoing AG Karl Racine at Venable. [Post]
  • Feds fund more MPD officers. [WTOP]
  • Mayor Muriel Bowser out raises Robert White in the initial round of campaign contributions. [Twitter]

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

Credit: Crystal Fernanders

The Carry-Out Food Critic Finds Korean BBQ Pizza and Pork Belly in Brookland

Bangbop, a ghost kitchen inside the Tastemakers food incubator in Brookland, opened in November 2020. […]

  • KFC is now carrying locally made mumbo sauce. [Washingtonian]
  • How is unionization going in the fast food industry? [Eater]

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

Credit: setitoff.tv

City Lights: Lex Marie Invites Onlookers to Remember the Past

Local artist Lex Marie primarily works in oil paint on canvas […]

  • ​​We the Peoples Before, a four-day festival celebrating Native life and culture, comes to the Kennedy Center this February. [DCist
  • WHUR, Howard University’s radio station, has been on the air for half a century; the station celebrated its birthday with a mural unveiling outside Ben’s Chili Bowl on Friday. [Washingtonian]

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

Credit: Kelyn Soong

Washington Football Team Falls to Dallas as Cowboys Fans Pack FedExField

The Dallas Cowboys sprinted onto FedExField Sunday afternoon to a mix of cheers and boos. […]

  •  In its second game since Mark Turgeon abruptly left the program, the Maryland men’s basketball team upset No. 20 Florida, 70-68, to give Danny Manning his first win as interim head coach. [Diamondback]
  • The Maryland women’s basketball team came short of upsetting No. 1 South Carolina, losing 66-59. [Testudo Times]
  • T.J. Oshie scored the winner in a 3-2 shootout win for the Capitals over the Sabres on Saturday. [NBC Sports Washington]

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

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