WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the District's reopening strategy in an effort to move toward Phase 1 of the White House's reopening guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The District has launched a Reopen D.C. Advisory Group comprised of city government and community leaders to monitor and guide how and when D.C. will reopen. The advisory group will have 12 committees focused on key areas such as:
- Disparity reduction for vulnerable populations
- Public Health and Workforce
- Real estate and construction
- Education and childcare
- Government opportunities
- Public safety
- Criminal justice
- Arts, culture, hotels, and entertainment
- Restaurants and food retailers
- Small businesses
- Human services and social services
Bowser said the advisory group will be advised by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The plan is community-driven based on science and the goal is to get more prosperity for the city and to make it more equitable, Bowser said.
The city will be focused on guiding values centered around health, prosperity and equity, Bowser said. This includes health disparities, especially among African Americans and vulnerable populations, helping small businesses get back on their feet, and providing opportunities for students.
In order for the city to meet the criteria and reach Phase 1 of federal guidelines, the city must observe a consistent two-week downward trend in coronavirus cases. DC has not yet met that criteria, though the average number of cases per day has shown signs of decreasing over the last week.
Bowser said the District needs to be in a place where it can provide health care for everyone who needs care and must have the ability to conduct widespread contract tracing.
In an effort to meet the contact tracing criteria, the city is expanding its contact tracing team to 200 people and will begin hiring in the coming weeks. Health officials said the expansion is needed because as people begin to move around in Phase 1, there will be more social contact and a need to reach out to more people. Over time, the city is looking to expand to at least 900 contact tracers as the District moves forward through the pandemic.
Bowser said for those that are being tested now, there is about 20% who test positive. The city wants to get that down to 10% before they consider moving forward in the reopening process.
Mayor Bowser said this will be a gradual process, and that she doesn't think "we’re going to have light switch and everything will return back to normal."
There is good news on the medical surge front: DC says none of its hospitals are using all of their ventilators.