D.C. Begins to Reopen One Small Step at a Time

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Renee Fleming and Vanessa Williams performed in front of a small audience over the weekend at the Kennedy Center. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Since March, Mayor Muriel Bowser has been out front (and sometimes outside) in the charge against the COVID-19 pandemic. Each week, she holds several in-person press conferences as well as virtual town halls. Situational Updates are issued at least once a week. She is the face of D.C. in this fight, along with others in her administration, such as DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt, M.D.

Yesterday, keeping up the pace, Bowser held a press conference and issued a Situational Update filled with various efforts.

First, as of Sept. 28, the District’s overall positive-case total is 15,300 — with 626 District residents having lost their lives due to the virus.

In the Washington, D.C., area, the death rate of COVID-19 is going down: On Sept. 28, it was: 4 percent, D.C.; 3 percent, Maryland; 2 percent, Virginia.  In comparison, on April 27, the percentage of infected people who died of COVID-19 in D.C. was 3.5 percent; on June 20, 5.3 percent died. The global COVID-19 death rate is now 4 percent — the same as Washington, D.C. — and dropping. The U.S. death rate is 2 percent.

D.C. remains in Phase Two of its reopening protocol: “Current Status Yellow: Moderate community spread, moderate health and public health capacity and fair community engagement.”

New is the Virtual Assistant, DC CovidLink, “an optional service that allows positive cases and notified close contacts the ability to share information about their symptoms and health status with the DC Contact Trace Force via text messages and phone calls.”

Meanwhile, the mayor’s office is reporting on feedback concerning support for teachers and for families in order to get the schools back open.

Bowser stated that the following schools are set to open with small groups this week and in October: Ballou STAY High School, Bancroft Elementary School, Cardozo Education Campus, Eastern High School, Kimball Elementary School, Kramer Middle School, Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School, Mann Elementary School, Noyes Elementary School, Tyler Elementary School, Phelps ACE High School, Roosevelt High School and Roosevelt STAY High School.

Also, from the Department of Parks and Recreation: Registration for fall programming will open at 9 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, at dpr.dc.gov. Programs will include outdoor fitness classes, sports like tennis and pickleball, as well as activities for seniors. Programs will start, on a rolling basis, on Oct. 13.

Also, on Oct. 13, six indoor aquatic centers will reopen for lap swimming and limited swim programs — make reservations starting Oct. 1 at dpr.dc.gov.

Bowser also began the Phase Two Live Entertainment Pilot, allowing six venues to host live entertainment with a maximum capacity of 50, including performers and staff: City Winery, GALA Hispanic Theatre, the Hamilton, the Kennedy Center, Pearl Street Warehouse and Union Stage. The pilot runs through Oct. 30.

At the same time, D.C. has invited the Adams Morgan Partnership BID, Arena Stage, Busboys and Poets, Capitol Riverfront BID, District Wharf, Et Voila! restaurant, Heist Group at the Kennedy Center and the Bullpen to resubmit plans for outdoor entertainment.

Of course, for Bowser, tomorrow there is no let-up. The 35th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Washington Monument will reopen Thursday, Oct. 1, with limited capacity. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. tomorrow at recreation.gov. This hopeful sign on the National Mall joins other reopenings: White House tours, several Smithsonian museums and expanded access to the National Gallery of Art.

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