Coronavirus Update: 4/21
I hope you are staying safe and hanging in there! I’m checking in to provide updates on Council work, District operations, and resources.
Recently, Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the Public Health Emergency and Stay at Home Order to May 15th. When grocery shopping, you will need to wear a mask or face covering to help protect yourself and others in the community. Social distancing remains the most critical way to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, and masks are NOT a replacement for social distancing. However, masks can help protect you and others near you when social distancing is a challenge, especially indoors. Because it’s not always easy to find a mask to purchase, some of us are making them from items at home. I made mine from a cloth napkin and some hair ties! You can even add a coffee filter for extra protection.
Guidance from DC Health
At our last Legislative Meeting on April 7th, the Council passed COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 in response to the public health emergency.
At today’s Legislative Meeting, we passed the COVID-19 Response Supplemental Temporary Amendment Act of 2020, which includes the following amendments to clarify provisions in the original bill:
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that students will continue distance learning from home until the end of the school year. The school year for DC Public Schools (DCPS) will end on May 29, 2020. DC public charter schools are determining their individual end of school year dates, updates are being posted here.
Voting in Upcoming Elections
The Board of Elections is encouraging residents to vote-by-mail in the upcoming June 2nd Primary Election and June 16th Ward 2 Special Election. You will need to request a ballot.
I provided some background information on how the District came to this decision in one of my previous updates.
To date, the District has had over 70,000 unemployment insurance claims filed with the Department of Employment Services. Early filers may have experienced long wait times on hold. The agency started out with 9 call takers back in March, but by this week, the agency should be operating with 193 call takers. We hope this will significantly shorten wait times. If you haven’t filed yet, here’s an explainer to understand the process, courtesy of Labor Committee Chairperson Councilmember Elissa Silverman.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will be temporarily extending sidewalks near grocery stores and essential retailers to allow pedestrians to practice social distancing.
DDOT will be taking recommendations from Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) and Business Improvement District (BID) representatives. I encourage residents to contact ANCs or BIDs if you have suggestions on spaces where we need a bit more space to walk.
If you aren’t sure which ANC represents your neighborhood, you can use this quick lookup tool.
In Case You Missed It
Last week, the District tragically reported the first deaths within our Homeless Services System. Here is the statement I released on April 15th:
“I have been informed that the District has had our first deaths within the Homeless Services System. Our shelters have continued to operate during the public health emergency, and since March 16th have remained open 24/7, in an effort to help mitigate the spread of the virus. As Chair of the Committee on Human Services, I have been in constant communication with the Department on Human Services on the implementation of CDC guidelines, testing protocols, and quarantining of exposed and acutely vulnerable individuals. Unfortunately, we know that the virus continues to spread throughout the entire district, and is affecting many of our most vulnerable populations. Recognizing that our residents in shelters are particularly susceptible to exposure to the virus, the agency’s current protocols involve remote quarantine options for positive cases and a separate quarantine site for residents that have complex health issues. The Committee will continue to support and monitor the agency’s efforts to protect our most vulnerable residents and the essential staff that continue to serve.”
I joined DC Council’s very own twitter celebrity, Josh Gibson, for a segment of #HearingTheCouncil! We discussed the District’s efforts to help vulnerable residents & touched on how I’ve been balancing life through it all. To watch, click here.
ANC Swearing in
Ward 1 made history last week as Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C, welcomed the first virtually sworn-in DC official. Congratulations, Commissioner Chris Jackson! I look forward to working together to serve our residents. My daughter Zoe didn’t quite understand the gravity of the moment, as I read the oath to our newest commissioner. Watch the clip if you’d like a working from home moment of levity.
Hook Hall Helps
Ward 1’s Hook Hall received a grant from the Rockefeller Fund to continue helping hospitality workers!
“Big D.C. bar and events space Hook Hall has been paying restaurants to prepare meals for distribution to hospitality workers in need, and the nonprofit fund helping pay for those meals has received a $100,000 grant from the Rockefeller Fund.”
In partnership with Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen, distribution sites have been set up at District schools to provide families with access to groceries. The sites are open Monday – Friday, 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Residents can pick up pre-packed grocery bags, on a first come, first served basis. Check out the site locations here.
Farmers markets remain open, so long as they practice proper social distancing. Before leaving home, double check the operating locations and hours here.
Schools continue to provide meals for all students. The locations are regularly updated. There are currently 5 Ward 1 sites, but you’re welcome to pick up at any of the sites. Here’s the link to check for your nearest location.
The Department of Aging and Community Living is delivering meals to our seniors. If you or someone you know is 60+ years old and needs a meal, please call (202) 724-5626, Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm.
Domestic Violence Assistance
D.C. Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment (SAFE), the District’s only 24/7 crisis intervention agency for domestic violence, reported an increase in calls following the announcement of the public health emergency.
Relief for Theater Professionals
Theatre Washington has raised over $230,000 for direct financial relief to theater professionals who are facing financial hardship. To apply for assistance or for information on how to help, visit their Facebook page here.
For the latest news and resources, visit coronavirus.dc.gov