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Bowser Extends Mask Mandate, Public Health Emergency


While the number of reported COVID-19 cases in D.C. continues to fall after reaching an all-time high in early January, the pandemic remains a constant source of worry here in the District. As a result, Mayor Muriel Bowser yesterday announced the extension of two mitigation measures she introduced late last year.

The indoor mask mandate, originally scheduled to expire at the end of January, will now expire Feb. 28. That means all individuals must cover their faces at schools, houses of worship, libraries, recreation centers, on public transit and in hired vehicles, and pretty much any other public space where one might encounter another person. In other words, keep an N95 handy. Montgomery County residents can pick up free masks at local libraries, while D.C. and Virginia residents may have to wait to pick up government-supplied masks at pharmacies and grocery stores.

The limited public health emergency will also remain in place until Feb. 15. It allows medical facilities to adjust administrative procedures as necessary to accommodate the increased demand on services and equipment due to the most recent COVID-19 surge. While this public health emergency is eligible for extension until March 17, Bowser’s recent order states “the falling rates of infection indicate that the public health emergency need not be extended that far into the future at this time.” Oh, let us hope that’s actually the case.

Washingtonians in need of COVID tests, vaccines, or boosters now have a new place to check out. As of this morning, a new COVID Center will operate inside the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ on 13th Street NW in Ward 4. This is the seventh COVID Center D.C. has opened, and an eighth will open in Ward 3 soon. Find hours and locations of all seven operating centers on the District’s coronavirus website.

Bowser will provide more COVID information (and perhaps discuss her reasoning behind deploying the snow team more than 48 hours before a predicted weekend storm) during a situational update that started at 11 a.m. 

Caroline Jones (tips? cjones@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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