WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Friday that a member of her staff passed away following a coronavirus diagnosis.
Bowser identified the staff member as George Valentine, the Deputy Director of the Office of Legal Council. Bowser said Valentine had more than 20 years of experience in D.C. government and worked in the Office of the Attorney General before joining her team.
In a press briefing Friday, Bowser said that Valentine had come into the office as an essential employee, before being hospitalized. She said that contract tracing is underway.
The mayor told reporters she did not believe she had contact with Valentine during the time of his diagnosis.
- State of Emergency issued
- Schools to continue online learning only and non-essential D.C. government workers to telework until April 27
- No public gatherings of more than 10 people in D.C.
- All non-essential businesses ordered to close through April 24
- Cases connected to Christ Church in Georgetown, CPAC conference, members of D.C. Fire and EMS.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday that the District will be awarded less money than states in the $2.2 trillion relief package that will give checks to Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
The District will receive $500 million while states will be awarded $1.25 billion. Bowser is calling on lawmakers to fix the inequity.
At least 25,000 people have applied for unemployment in the last week in D.C., according to District leaders. And about 30 to 40 percent of sales tax revenue was lost during the closure of businesses in the District.
Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered all non-essential businesses in the District, including personal services, like salons, barbershops, etc., to close effective March 25, to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the District. Cases have now topped 1,000 across D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“As we continue working to blunt the curve, my message to the community is simple: Be a good neighbor, stay at home," Bowser said.
The Mayor's order is in effect though April 24.
D.C. has at least eight known pediatric cases: an 8-week-old boy, 1-year-old girl, 8-year-old boy, 8-year-old girl, 9-year-old girl, 10-year-old boy, 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy. Approximately 40% of D.C.'s cases affect those between the ages of 20-30, 40% affect 40-50-year-olds and 12% affect those over the age of 60; only seven cases in the District are between the ages of 70 and 80.
Cases in D.C. have been traced to Christ Church in Georgetown, international travel, including Europe and a cruise down the Nile River, and attendance at conferences such as Biogen, CPAC and CEEP.
At least two members of the DC police department and at least 10 DC Fire and EMS members -- including the assistant fire chief -- have tested positive for coronavirus. Others across both departments -- including more than 140 FEMS staff -- are under quarantine after coming into contact with the infected individuals.
Officials also announced new childcare options that will launch to help service healthcare workers. The District has partnered with three providers to provide care for children up to age 12, so healthcare workers can focus on work ahead of them, officials said.
Bowser asked the Metropolitan Police Department to work with the D.C. National Guard to restrict access to Tidal Basin as people were not social distancing there.
"We love our cherry blossoms," Bowser said, urging folks to enjoy them online. "We will again enjoy them next year."
There is also increased monitoring and enforcement of public parks, which are all are closed and locked up, Bowser said. She said they continue to see people doing group exercises, like basketball, etc. and not practicing social distancing.
Bowser also announced a $1 million distance learning fund, to provide internet access and digital devices for students during the coronavirus outbreak. Tuesday was the first day of distance learning at D.C. Public Schools, after an adjusted spring break.
Testing abilities for D.C. labs has increased, public health officials said March 25. On March 7, D.C. public health labs were able to run about 15 tests per day. On March 25, the labs announced they are able to now do around 150 a day, with numbers expected to rise thanks to more equipment and investment.
Director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Chris Rodriguez said they have seen an increase in cases in the District since last week, and officials are preparing for a medical surge.
He outlined four initiatives for medical surge planning:
- DC Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt is working with D.C. hospitals to shed load, canceling elective surgeries.
- Look to expanding space in existing hospitals, like hallways
- Reconfiguring existing facilities, like unused hotels for medical surge
- Look at opening larger facilities, working with FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers
Rodriguez told people to be good neighbors and stay at home to help flatten the curve.
Officials are urging people to continue to practice social distancing. They are asking for more volunteers to their D.C. Medical Reserve Corps, which aids in assistance during medical emergencies. So far, officials said they have received 1,600 applications and are looking for more volunteers. Here’s where you can apply to help.
Schools are required to continue online learning only in the District until April 27. Non-essential government workers in D.C. are also required to telework until April 27.
The District will continue to provide assistance for small businesses and those filing for unemployment. As of March 20, 11,844 people have filed for unemployment in D.C.. Bowser said the seven-day waiting period for benefits will be eliminated, and you no longer will have to provide proof of attempting to find another job in this time frame.
A direct local relief program was also announced as a $25M recovery fund, funded with local dollars. Applications for the program and further details are to be announced sometime next week in an effort to provide short term financial assistance to nonprofits, independent contractors and small businesses.
The D.C. Council approved a "COVID-29 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020," which provides several measures that will assist residents, businesses, and organizations during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Emergency Act will do the following:
- Extends employment protections under D.C. Family Medical Leave Act.
- Extends the March 31 real property tax for hotels to June 30, 2020 and allows other businesses to defer February and March sales taxes to July 20, 2020.
- Creates small business grant program, including grants to non-profits and independent contractors (if they do not qualify for Unemployment Insurance).
- Allows for pick up or delivery of beer and wine (in a sealed container) to be consumed in the home from a restaurant if ordered with food.
- Extends time for filing of biennial corporate filing.
- Expands authorities for the Mayor under the Public Emergency Act.
- Provides DISB flexibility for health insurance and matters regulated by DISB.
- Extends public benefit programs such as Alliance, TANF, and SNAP.
- Limits price gouging and stockpiling.
- Prohibits utility companies from shutting off service.
- Prohibits eviction of residential and non-residential tenants.
- Prohibits housing providers from charging a late fee during emergency.
- Allows for prescription drug refills before end of waiting period.
- Extends licenses and registration deadlines (DMV, professional licenses, etc.).
- Homeless Services Reform Act contingency provisions.
- Extends Tenant Opportunity to Purchase OPA deadline and prohibit landlords from charging late fees.
- Allows Department of Corrections discretion for awarding additional good time credits for those sentenced for misdemeanors, consistent with public safety.
- Provides DCPS Summer school calendar flexibility.
- Clarifies schools’ attendance reporting during emergency.
- Allows ANCs to meet less than 9 times per year and may do so remotely.
- Suspends meetings of other boards and commissions.
- Extends FOIA deadlines.
- Allows flexibility of the Open Meetings Act when remotely meeting.
- Extends Budget Submission Requirements to a May 6, 2020 deadline.
- Allows for Council to meet virtually.
What precautions should you take?
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
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