Credit: Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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BA.5 wave

Despite loosening COVID-related restrictions and reduced testing and tracing efforts, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned this week that “COVID-19 is nowhere near over.”

“The virus is running freely,” he said Tuesday. “And many countries are not effectively managing the disease burden.”

Cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the U.S. due in large part to the newest omicron subvariant: BA.5, which is more resistant to immunity from vaccines and previous infections. Thirty-eight states have seen increases in cases, and hospitalizations have increased in 43 states in the past two weeks, the Guardian reports.

In D.C., new daily reported cases and COVID-related hospitalizations have increased by 12 percent and 15 percent respectively in the past week. Deaths related to COVID have remained flat.

During Friday’s call between the D.C. Council and DC Health, Senior Deputy Patrick Ashley said D.C. has no plans at the moment to issue an advisory to wear masks indoors, as New York City has. Ashley noted that, so far, D.C.’s numbers are better than in other places around the country. 

President Biden released a plan this week laying out his strategy to address BA.5, which includes easy access to vaccines, tests, and treatments.

Unemployed Contact Tracers

Also during Friday’s Council/executive call, At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman reported that she has received “tens” of emails from recently laid-off contact tracers looking for help applying to unemployment. Ashley confirmed that contact tracers were hired as employees, not contractors, and therefore might be eligible for benefits. He promised to follow up with the human resources department. Last month, DC Health laid off 131 contact tracers, marking an official end to the program, the Post reported

Novavax Gets Approval

The FDA approved Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use this week, making it the fourth such vaccine available in the U.S. The biotech company based in Gaithersburg used a protein-based technology, as opposed to Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines. 

It’s the country’s first protein-based vaccine and presents an option for those who are allergic to an ingredient in mRNA vaccines. The full course for adults includes two initial doses. Novavax will request authorization for a booster and for use in younger people. The U.S. government has secured 3.2 million doses, according to news reports.

House Calls

Homebound D.C. residents are now able to receive COVID tests without leaving the house. The DC Health program sends a registered nurse to D.C. homes to administer PCR and rapid-antigen tests, the agency announced this week. Appointments can be made by phone at (855) 363-0333.

—by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • The driver of a dump truck hit and killed a bicyclist in Shaw. [NBC Washington]
  • Evergreen content: Metro will be delayed in some places this weekend. Single tracking on the Green and Yellow lines between Georgia Avenue and Fort Totten means trains will arrive every 24 minutes. [WMATA]
  • Lauren Handy and Terrisa Bukovinac, anti-abortion activists who police found with five fetuses inside Handy’s home, were sentenced to 30 days in jail for trespassing at a women’s clinic in Alexandria. [WUSA]
  • A Metropolitan Police Department officer who was in the motorcade with former President Trump on Jan. 6 corroborated Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony to the House committee investigating the insurrection. Hutchinson told the committee that Trump threw a fit when he was told he could not go to the Capitol that day and tried to grab the steering wheel and then lunged at a Secret Service agent. [CNN]
  • Biden nominated two judges to the D.C. Superior Court and one to the D.C. Court of Appeals. [WTOP]

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

  • As Mayor Muriel Bowser marked the opening of D.C.’s first homeless shelter for LGBTQ adults, a self-described “activist” took the mic during a press conference to ask if she was a closeted lesbian. “Well, I’m not in the closet,” she quipped. [Twitter]
  • A judge dismissed a lawsuit from a local bartender (with deep ties to the restaurant lobby) seeking to keep Initiative 82 off the ballot. The tipped minimum wage measure remains on course to go before voters in November. [DCist]
  • Passwords to government email accounts for Bowser and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson were among those leaked in a massive data breach. [WJLA]

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

  • D.C. pastry chef Paola Velez collaborated with Häagen-Daz to create a PB&J sundae. [Eater]
  • ICYMI: National Ice Cream Day is July 17. Here are the shops around town offering free ice cream and other deals. [Washingtonian]

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

Credit: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

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  • The book-banning fight carries on in Virginia: Fauquier County’s chapter of the national parental rights group Moms for Liberty wants school libraries to remove several books for being “too graphic and inappropriate for children.” [WUSA9]
  • Not sure if this makes me feel better or worse about going out: Yesterday the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture, D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, MPD, and D.C. Fire and EMS led an active shooter training for the city’s nightlife and entertainment venues. [WTOP]
  • Petworth Jazz Project has announced the lineups for its three shows at Petworth Park this summer. [Petworth News]

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

  • The Mystics left it all on the court—in the first quarter—in last night’s 85-70 loss to the Phoenix Mercury. [Bullets Forever]
  • Luis García’s unconventional and impatient approach as the Nats leadoff hitter works for him—sometimes. [Post]
  • Neal Henderson, founder of the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, is featured in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The club is the oldest minority hockey club in North America. [Twitter]

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

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