Illustration of covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Photo illustration by Julia Terbrock

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The level of community spread of COVID-19 in D.C. has increased from “low” to “medium,” according to District data. The weekly case rate as of May 14 (the most recent date that data is available on D.C.’s COVID website) is 298.2 per 100,000 people—the highest figure since the tail end of the omicron surge in January. The rate of new weekly hospital admissions due to COVID decreased from the previous week.

The CDC’s weekly case rate for D.C., which is current as of May 17, is 447.47 per 100,000.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said this week that people should consider wearing masks indoors as cases and hospitalizations rise in some parts of the country. Montgomery County Executive Mark Elrich is advising residents to wear masks while they’re inside public spaces as cases in the county increase. Montgomery County Public Schools are of particular focus for officials there, as positive cases have reached their highest levels since January. Sherwood Elementary School reinstated its mask mandate after 11.6 percent of students and staff tested positive in the past 10 days.

In other COVID news:

• Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots are available for children ages 5 to 11, DC Health announced Friday following approval by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DC Health recommends that kids in that age range, who received their initial series of COVID vaccines by Dec. 20, 2021, should get the booster. And kids 5 to 11 who are “moderately or severely immunocompromised” and who received their initial vaccine by Feb. 20, 2022, are also eligible for the booster. Shots are available for free at the District’s COVID centers.

• A monkeypox outbreak in Europe, and at least one confirmed case in Massachusetts, is on the radars of public health officials in the U.S. as we trudge through the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Monkeypox, a close cousin to smallpox, is not as transmissible or deadly as its relative, and does not transmit through the air. But the recent outbreak in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal will present a test for whether we’ve learned anything from the past two and a half years, writes Atlantic science writer Ed Yong.

“Can we better thread the needle between panic and laxity, or will we once again eschew uncertainty in a frantic quest for answers that later prove to be wrong?” Yong asks in his May 19 piece on monkeypox.

During a call with D.C. councilmembers Friday, DC Health Senior Deputy Director Patrick Ashely downplayed concern about the outbreak. 

Ashley, acknowledging that he’s no monkeypox expert, said monkeypox has been around for many years and is better understood than the novel coronavirus when it first appeared. Ashley told councilmembers that public health officials are monitoring the outbreak, but “it’s not something we’re concerned about or something I would encourage individuals to take specific precautions for.”

Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Through the window of his first-floor Congress Heights apartment, Lennon English listened as Mayor Muriel […]

By Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Eric Goulet for Ward 3

Eric Goulet Accuses Ward 3 Rivals of ‘Political Desperation’ Following Chamber Forum Controversy

Unlike the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, the D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition had the good sense […]

  • DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt accused six councilmembers of “undercutting trust” in her department, after they pressed for more information on gaps in the city’s COVID-19 data reporting. She claims that faster releases of case counts would accelerate “burnout” among her staff. [Axios]
  • Longtime activist Philip Pannell resigned from Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White’s LGBT commission, arguing it’s “hypocritical at best and structurally homophobic at worst” that White doesn’t have an out LGBTQ person on his staff. [Blade]
  • Public housing residents at Capitol Hill’s Potomac Gardens property are pushing city officials for badly needed improvements, after bringing their concerns directly to Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier this week. They’ve already gotten D.C. Fire to remove padlocks it placed on gates surrounding the property, which it found to be a fire hazard. [WUSA9]

By Alex Koma (tips? akoma@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Sandlot Anacostia, a 28,000-square-foot music venue and food and drink garden, is slated to open Juneteenth weekend just east of the Anacostia River. [Washingtonian]
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By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: DJ Corey Photography

A Story Within a Story: Memoirs of a Forgotten Man Contemplates Russia in ’57 and ’37

Moscow, 1957: The stage is dominated by a mural valorizing Joseph Stalin, the sunrise to […]

  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: What could be more punk that Wednesday evening punk shows on the roof of the library? Yes, after a long hiatus, concerts are back at MLK Library. [DCist]
  • A niche theater company that showcases the lives and loves of Black LGBTQ people celebrates its 30th anniversary with its first live performance since COVID during next weekend’s DC Black Pride. [DC Metro Theater Arts]

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

  • Elizabeth Williams is expected to make her Mystics debut Friday after winning the Turkish league championship. [Post]
  • T.J. Oshie is moving. The Caps winger is selling his $7.5 million home in McLean after he bought another house in McLean. [Post]
  • DC United will kick off at 4 p.m. Saturday, instead of 6 p.m., due to high temperatures and humidity forecasted for the weekend. [NBC4]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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