Mayor Muriel Bowser
Mayor Muriel Bowser's decision to reverse mask and vaccine mandates has attracted fast pushback. Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Many D.C. public school students return to in-person classes this week after COVID-19 testing and last week’s winter storm set the clock back. Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed confidence in the citywide test-to-return program. The protocol, which requires students to test negative on a recent rapid antigen COVID-19 test in order to return to school, has been a success, Bowser told WTOP

“For us, those are 40,000 votes for school,” Bowser said. “Let’s be clear, that’s a mandate that families want the city to do everything that we can to make sure that we have safe school options.”

About 9,000 staff have also complied with test-to-return requirements. The roughly 10,000 DCPS students whose families haven’t uploaded valid test results are still able to either get a rapid test at school or present their results once they arrive.

But questions remain about the gaps in this temporary, post-holiday measure.

“Last night, I had a little bit of a breakdown,” said At-Large Councilmember Christina Henderson during a call with fellow councilmembers and D.C. health officials on Friday. “I was like, we tested all of these kids for one day in school. And now, if somebody goes out this weekend, we are literally starting from zero again on Monday. … Why can’t we ask folks to do this again on Sunday night? Swab your kid again, upload the results.”

But rapid antigen tests are less sensitive to COVID-19 than PCR tests and are designed to be used at least one day apart from a retest, said D.C. Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn. The city would need to supply additional kits for that to happen. Kihn didn’t explain why one antigen test result was good enough for winter break testing. Right now, Kihn said, the city is not planning on doing additional “test-to-return” for schools, Scott Gelman of WTOP noted. At this morning’s press conference, D.C. State Superintendent of Education Christina Grant said students will have to test to return following scheduled breaks of a week or more.

In Other News …

The end of the District’s first week of snow also started with a downpour of another kind. 

New details surrounding the case of the Shopping Cart Killer flowed out of a Fairfax County Police Department press conference late Friday. Last week a “critical tip” linked the sole person of interest in a string of potential serial murders, Anthony Eugene Robinson, 35, to a fifth woman’s body, according to Major Ed O’Carroll of the Cyber and Forensics Bureau in the Fairfax County PD. The body was that of Sonya Champ, 40, found covered with only a blanket in a shopping cart on F Street NE near Union Station on Sept. 7, 2021. The recent tip led to “digital evidence” that places Robinson near the body around the time of Champ’s disappearance.

Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis also shared that DNA evidence has confirmed the identities of two victims’ bodies: D.C. resident Cheyenne Brown, 29, who was four months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, and Stephanie Harrison, 48, of Redding, California. Robinson was the last person to be seen with Brown, according to the police chief. He used the dating app Plenty of Fish to interact with Brown. Police believed he also used the app Tagged to lure victims. Hotel receipts show Robinson stayed at the Moon Inn Hotel in Alexandria, near where the bodies of Brown and Harrison were found, on six different occasions, including on the day Brown went missing, Davis noted. 

Robinson, who is being held at the Rockingham County Jail in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two Harrisonburg women, Allene Elizabeth Redmon, 54, and Tonita Lorice Smith, 39. Both of their bodies were found in a vacant lot in November.

“He transported the bodies of these women in a shopping cart,” Davis said. “We believe he transported at least one of our Fairfax County victims in a shopping cart as well.” 

Fairfax County PD is collaborating with the Metropolitan Police Department, which is investigating the fifth case. There are also 35 law enforcement agencies from Harrisonburg to New York, Robinson’s home state, reviewing missing persons’ cases to identify other victims that may be linked to Robinson. Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit and Washington Field Office are helping Fairfax County PD develop a better profile of Robinson and potential victims.  

Police officers are urging the public to provide any information they may have from previous contact with Robinson. Anyone with tips can call the Fairfax County PD Major Crimes Bureau at (703) 246-7800 or submit tips anonymously via Crime Solvers at 1 (866) 411-TIPS. 

“We know a lot but we do need your help about his habits to help uncover additional victims or survivors and to build a strong, accurate and detailed case against Robinson,” O’Carroll said. “Because this case is not about shopping carts. It’s about a serial killer who took the lives of innocent women.”

Ambar Castillo (tips?

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • New COVID-19 testing sites are opening around the DMV to help relieve demand at current sites. [Washingtonian
  • A man was shot at the Shaw-Howard University Metro station Sunday night and taken to the hospital with non-critical injuries. The shooting temporarily forced the Green and Yellow lines to single track, bypassing the station. [WUSA9]

By Ambar Castillo (tips?

  • Tom Faust will return to lead the D.C. Department of Corrections in an acting capacity, replacing Quincy Booth. Faust was DOC director from 2011 to 2016. [DCist]
  • Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray showed up to the groundbreaking of the new Lidl supermarket in Southeast. He suffered a stroke late last year that has sidelined him from public appearances and Council meetings. [WJLA, Post]

By Mitch Ryals (tips?

Credit: Mack Ordaya

Lucky Buns Expands to The Wharf, Promising a Late-Night Nosh Option

Lucky Buns, known for its high-stacked, deeply satisfying burgers and fried chicken sandwiches, will open […]

Credit: Joe Reberkenny

Meeting About As You Are Bar’s Liquor License Lasts Three Ugly Hours

Update 1/10: The vote on As You Are Bar’s liquor license originally scheduled for Jan. […]

  • Honeymoon Chicken debuts in Petworth this Wednesday. [Washingtonian]
  • Look inside Licht Café, the new LGBTQ+ bar on U Street NW. [Eater DC]

By Laura Hayes (tips?

City Lights: Songbyrd Music Trivia Celebrates Funky Divas

Start the week on a winning note […]

  • How one Black filmmaker defied the Virginia Board of Censors (1922-1966), which sought to promote Jim Crow-era segregation. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
  • This morning, American Shakespeare Center named resident actor Brandon Carter its new artistic director, making him the first person of color to lead the company and, hopefully, signaling a new way forward. [Post]
  • It’s about to get savage! Rihanna’s size, color, and gender-inclusive Savage X Fenty brand to open a brick and mortar store right here in D.C.—must be love on the brain. [WUSA9]

By Sarah Marloff (tips?

  • Ilia Malinin, a 17-year-old Northern Virginia native, claimed second place at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but the selection committee passed him over for a spot in the U.S. Beijing Winter Olympic team. [NBC Sports]
  • The Washington Football Team finished the season 7-10 with a 22-7 win over the New York Giants yesterday. The next time Washington returns to the field, it will have a different name and logo. The team will pick 11th in the 2022 NFL Draft. [Hogs Haven, ESPN]
  • Rui Hachimura scored six points in his long-awaited season debut last night in the Wizards’ 102-100 win over the Magic. Hachimura missed the first 39 games of the season due to personal reasons. [NBC Sports Washington]
  • Three women with local ties, Weini Kelati, Emily Infeld, and Susanna Sullivan, finished in the top ten at the USATF Cross Country Championships in San Diego. Kelati, the runner-up, ran at Heritage High School in Loudoun County, Infeld, who finished third, ran for Georgetown, and Sullivan, who finished in 10th, is an elementary school teacher in Falls Church. []

By Kelyn Soong (tips?

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