“We expect more cases,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Nov. 30 at her post-Thanksgiving press conference. While the District had urged residents to stay at home during the holidays to avoid spreading COVID-19, the mayor had backup orders. “For those of you who did travel over Thanksgiving, we ask that you get tested for the virus and quarantine for three to four days until your results are known, or you quarantine at home and limit activities for 15 days.
“D.C. has sufficient testing for anyone who wants it,” Bowser added. “Testing capacity can grow in D.C.” Most public testing sites will be set up in an outdoor space, in tents and with heaters, some as pop-ups at temporary sites. But the mayor also urged those interested in getting a test to consult their personal doctor first.
A number of different coronavirus vaccines that would prevent infection may be available soon for a limited number of people in the District, the mayor announced. The challenge for local authorities is that the vaccines need to be kept in super-cold storage units until they are distributed.
“It turns out that the District has substantial capacity to store these vaccines,” the mayor said. “Acute care facilities and pharmacies in the District have a sufficient number of freezers for the vaccine dosages we expect to receive. The District also has the management infrastructure already in place to distribute the vaccine.
“To date, the number of vaccine dosages we have been told to expect, and it changes, would be enough to vaccinate about one-tenth of the District’s Class A distribution priority,” the mayor continued. “That begins with health care workers.” Other groups that may be included in the first-priority list are first responders, essential workers, seniors (possibly anyone over the age 65) and teachers.
“We are making the best decisions we can based on what we think will keep the District safe,” the mayor said in response to questions about who will be the first to get the vaccine and when D.C.’s public schools will reopen for in-person teaching for most students.
The District reported 21,552 people with confirmed and probable COVID-19 infections as of 5 p.m. on Nov. 30 (including 104 new cases that day) and a total of 680 deaths (none that day). The mortality rate for virus cases in the District is 3.1 percent, a steady decrease from former highs of over 4 percent in September and 3.4 percent on Nov. 19.