Apr 13, 2020

Washington D.C. Mayor Coronavirus Briefing April 13

DC Mayor Briefing April 14
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsWashington D.C. Mayor Coronavirus Briefing April 13

Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser held a COVID-19 press briefing today on April 13. Read the full transcript of her updates.

 

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Muriel Bowser: (00:00)
Good morning everyone. I’m Muriel Bowser. I’m the mayor of Washington DC, and this morning I’m here to provide a update on the district’s response to COVID-19. Today we are specifically going to talk about where we are with testing, and I’m joined by members of my administration who will be available for questions. This morning, just to let you know where we are with cases. We reported 80 new cases of COVID-19 in the district, bringing our total cases to 1,955. Tragically, we also announced two deaths as of our reporting this morning. 52 DC residents have lost their lives due to COVID-19. We have, for a number of days, also been reporting the geographic distribution of those positive cases, as well as the race and ethnicity of positive cases in those who have lost their lives. We continue to call on more regular reporting nationally, especially from our private health labs about race and ethnic data and demographics.

Muriel Bowser: (01:27)
I also want to thank everyone who celebrated their faith at home this weekend. In so doing, you helped us save lives. Still the number one way we can flatten the curve is with distancing, social distancing. And we continue to thank residents of the District of Columbia for their sacrifice, for all the businesses and people who we know whose lives have been upended by this pandemic. Over the weekend I announced that we worked with the national park service and the United States park police to close roads to traffic on Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park as well as roads in Anacostia Park and Fort DuPont Park. With these closures residents will have more room for essential exercise. I want to reiterate though that the importance of social districts saying even when out for exercise, you must maintain six feet between you and people who are not in your household. I want to thank Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for his work to make these closures possible.

Muriel Bowser: (02:39)
I also want to remind residents about two new resources that we are starting today. Today is the first day of our new DCPS grocery sites. Remember, these are open to all families that need them between 12:30 PM, just after noon, until two PM and they are first come first served and residents can find a full list of meal and grocery sites at coronavirus.dc.gov. So at these sites in addition to the school meals are served, there will be an opportunity for for families to pick up small grocery items to take with them. Additionally, today is the first day of operations for a new hotline for residents who are home bound due to COVID- 19 and need help accessing food or other essential items. The hotline can be reached at 1-888, that’s three eights, 349, 8323. (888) 349-8323, or online at coronavirus.dc.gov/gethelp.

Muriel Bowser: (03:55)
Now I want to share some updates about where we are with COVID-19 testing in the district. You will also hear from Dr. Jennifer Smith who is the leader of the DC Department of Forensic Services, and it is … People are used to hearing from Dr. Smith as it relates to the crime lab that she oversees at DFS, but she also oversees the public health lab at DFS. Since we started planning for this public health emergency, we have known the important role that testing would put play at every level, from containment to mitigation to getting to the other side of this pandemic and eventually reopening our economy. So before you see a total, the total number and cumulative number of COVID tests from the District of Columbia starting at the end of … Starting at the beginning of March, and we have made progress through increase efforts at the public health lab, our private healthcare providers and our commercial labs. Testing has increased from about 300 tests per one million persons on March 18th to about 18,300 tests per million as of April 11th.

Muriel Bowser: (05:28)
There’s clearly more for us to do on and every day. We are looking for ways that we can increase our testing capacity in the district. Right now our public health lab has the capacity to do 500 tests per day, and this week the lab is also bringing online two rapid point of care instruments that can be used in a clinic or on a mobile lab. As we get new instruments like these, we also continue working to build up our stock pile of testing supplies through assistance from the federal government and through our own supply chains, and so we have on several occasions let you know where we are with sampling kits and swabs and the test, that’s how we arrive at our testing capacity.

Muriel Bowser: (06:21)
In terms of what’s next for testing, testing is going to be ongoing. It’s going to be necessary at every stage of our response and recovery. Right now we’re testing people to determine if they have been infected with COVID-19 and I know that there is a lot of interest in antibody testing, and as we learn more about the COVID-19 immune response, this testing will be very important, and starting in May the public health lab will have these testing capabilities and Dr. Smith will say more about that. One of the roles of our public health lab is playing is supporting our testing site at the United medical center. We still have more capacity in our drive through and walk through site and continue urging residents who have COVID-19 symptoms or otherwise feel ill to call the hotline, and that number once again is 1 855-363-0333. Once again, 1 855-363-0333. Again, though, UMC is not the only place to get tested. Health providers across the district are testing for COVID-19 so if someone feels sick they can also call their own doctor or one of these healthcare providers and talk about getting tested, and there we’ve listed, there where a lot of DC residents are active with GW University medical system, and you can call for an appointment. Children’s National is testing children from all over the district, All Care Family Medicine and Urgent Care, you can call for an appointment. Mary’s Center, call for an appointment. Unity Healthcare, you can call for an appointment. We also know that there is several medical membership groups and they are testing their members by appointment. You can reach out to One Medical, MedStar Health, and Kaiser Permanente and all of those providers are doing COVID-19 testing and you need to call to ask your provider how to get tested. But everyone can call, if they don’t have a provider to be triaged and screened by calling the United Medical Center hotline at (855) 363-0333.

Muriel Bowser: (08:54)
So I want to close by continuing to remind everyone to stay at home. But also to remind everybody to continue to be kind to one another, to think of ways you can help a neighbor or call and check on a friend who may be in need. So with that I want to turn to Dr. Smith. I’m also joined by Dr. Nesben And Dr. Rodriguez who will also be available for questions. Jenifer?

Dr. Jenifer Smith: (09:25)
Yes. So today we’d like to speak a little bit about our future approaches, which include two new pieces of equipment that have been provided to us. You’ve probably heard about some of these. One of these is called the [inaudible 00:09:39] expert. It’s actually a very small piece of equipment that has simplified the testing process in that you can take a swab, you can insert it into a small cassette, it looks like sort of a K cup, and then you insert that into the machine and it takes about 45 minutes to get a result. These samples can be added one at a time and we have equipment that varies from four samples at a time to 16 using the Cepheid. And the other system that we have is the Abbott ID now. The Abbott test again is also very small. It the testing kit comes with its own swab. The patient would be swab, the swab is then placed into the piece of equipment, and this can take up anywhere from five to 15 minutes per sample.

Dr. Jenifer Smith: (10:27)
The interesting part about these instruments, they can be put in to a clinic. They don’t require a lot of bench space. They could be put into a mobile laboratory too. So of course we’re always worried about the amount of tests that are available for this. Right now for the Cepheid we have hundreds of those tests available to us, the actual kits, and due to the generosity of the federal government, we’ve received 15, or, I’m sorry, 16 of the Abbott IDs as well as about 1,000 test kits that come with those.

Muriel Bowser: (11:10)
Anything else to add, Dr. Nesben, Dr. Rodriguez?

Speaker 1: (11:13)
No, so we’re just very excited about the new testing options that are coming.

Muriel Bowser: (11:36)
Okay. Any questions? Yes, Sam?

Sam: (11:42)
[inaudible 00:11:42] little more about the grocery program. How does that work? Can just anybody come up and get groceries, or?

Muriel Bowser: (11:49)
We will have them both what they call shelf stable items, dry items and some fresh items, produce and vegetables. And so families who are in need can go to to-

Muriel Bowser: (12:03)
… those sites.

Sam: (12:06)
Another thing I would ask, mayor, over the weekend, we saw the social media of police, I think they looked like [inaudible 00:12:16] to me, but nevertheless, there were police, they were surrounded. The implication was that they were trying to, let’s say get people to social distance, but in fact, it seemed like they eventually just gave up and left. What do you have to say about that?

Muriel Bowser: (12:29)
I’m not familiar with that.

Sam: (12:31)
You haven’t seen the video?

Muriel Bowser: (12:32)
I haven’t.

Sam: (12:34)
Well, are police tasked to break up crowds if they see them?

Muriel Bowser: (12:40)
They are tasked, as we have discussed with urging people if they are congregating with more than 10 people, to urge them to move along. And they have been instructed with various scripts where they can use their loudspeaker, or with the officers’ discretion, he can engage. But their directive from the chief is to urge people who are violating that group of 10 to move along.

Sam: (13:12)
And if they don’t do they have arrest powers?

Muriel Bowser: (13:14)
There are enforcement powers that have been outlined in the mayor’s order.

Sam: (13:21)
Are you aware of anyone that’s been arrested?

Muriel Bowser: (13:22)
I am not.

Mark: (13:24)
Can I just follow up on that, mayor?

Muriel Bowser: (13:25)
Sure.

Mark: (13:28)
As far as no one’s been arrested. Have any businesses been fined, or have there been any businesses closed down? Have you seen any signs of noncompliance in that sense?

Muriel Bowser: (13:36)
I will have to get back to you Mark, because we have as members of the public to report suspected violations from businesses by calling 311. Chris, are you aware of any reports?

Chris: (13:51)
Mark, we’re not aware of any reports of businesses being closed down, or fines. What we are seeing is an adherence to the mayor’s orders, in terms of limiting operations, particularly in the take out, some of the restaurants doing takeout to go options.

Muriel Bowser: (14:11)
And as you know, we changed our policy around fresh food markets, and a number of those markets requested a waiver with a very substantial plan and they were able to open over the weekend.

Mark: (14:29)
And then if I ask a couple of the doctor. Just one on the [inaudible 00:14:37] app, for hospital updates that gives us the ICU beds. And I keep looking back [crosstalk 00:14:43] I’m sorry, but is that number reflective of, I believe it’s total numbers available that I’ve been told. But is that the total number of available reserved for COVID patients, or for anyone in the city who might need an ICU bed?

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (14:59)
That’s the total number of beds available for any patient who might receive ICU care. We have not restricted a certain number of ICU beds for COVID care in the district at this time. Recognizing that patients in the District of Columbia will continue to receive healthcare for any number of reasons. And then our hospitals will need to be prepared to take care of patients with a number of healthcare needs across the spectrum.

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (15:29)
So unfortunately, we know that we may have patients who continue to have emergencies related to heart disease and strokes, et cetera, and our hospitals and healthcare systems will need to be prepared for that. It’s also why we continue to message to individuals in terms of, if you have mild symptoms, we want you to be able to call ahead and get guidance and advice from your healthcare provider as to whether or not you need to go into an emergency room, or come into the healthcare environment in the first place to allow some of that triaging to happen outside of the healthcare system if possible.

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (16:04)
It’s also why a huge number of our healthcare providers have implemented telemedicine, to be able to reduce the burden and stress on our healthcare systems and to keep individuals who have mild symptoms of COVID 19 out of the health system, and away from some of our most vulnerable individuals who may be coming into the healthcare environment for cancer treatment, or who may be otherwise immunocompromised and still have to come into the healthcare environment.

Mark: (16:33)
May I ask, are you learning anything yet from the data that you’re getting? Geographic, age, race data? Is it too soon, or is there anything? I see the number of testing numbers. Ward 6 was leading in the beginning, and then that has fluctuated. And then obviously a lot of attention is people keep seeing the percentage of African Americans who are dying compared to the African American population, but is there anything that you all are learning yet from the data?

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (17:07)
As we’ve mentioned before, it’s difficult to make any statements around geographic data in the District of Columbia for a host of reasons. Our geographic data follows our geopolitical constructs of wards. We are a small jurisdiction of 60 something square miles, whether you’re using our occupied land mass, or counting our parks and our waterways.

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (17:33)
And while other states are able to look at counties and cities and use their geographic boundaries in that particular way, we also provide our testing data by place of residence, versus place of exposure. And we know that our residents are very mobile. They move throughout the city. Many of have places of essential employment that may be in a ward that is different than their ward of residence, as well as outside of the district. And our poorest boundaries also extend to Maryland and Virginia, where as many have observed, the places in Maryland with the highest numbers of cases tend to surround the National Capital Region.

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (18:21)
So it’s very difficult to make any statements, inferences, or draw any conclusions based on our geographic data. I think you’ve heard the mayor speak, you’ve heard national leaders speak about the race and ethnicity data. I take the position that these are not things that are related to solely the disproportionate burden of underlying conditions in African Americans, but also things that we have highlighted even in our Health Equity Report, that the Department of Health published prior. Which has to do with systemic inequities that disproportionally burden the African American community, which may be things around healthcare access. We have, the majority of our residents in the district have health insurance, but healthcare access extends beyond health insurance. So how do people actually access healthcare?

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (19:15)
Also things surrounding things around employment opportunities, and a host of other things. So when we’re talking about the racial and ethnic differences and who is impacted by any pandemic, and also who dies from any pandemic, I think we have to have broader conversations about systemic inequities that disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minorities.

Muriel Bowser: (19:41)
Thank you Dr. Nesbitt. And I have another announcement to make. While we’ve been sitting here, we confirmed that a person in our care has died from COVID-19. Mr. Deon Crowell, 51, passed this morning. He was an inmate at DC Jail. He was hospitalized on April 7th. His next of kin has been notified by the DOC chaplain and we sent them our deep condolences.

Sam: (20:16)
Mayor, question on that phone call there, Bennet, cordially, the Post.

Muriel Bowser: (20:20)
Yep. Go ahead, Washington Post.

Bennet: (20:25)
Hi, it’s Bennet [inaudible 00:08:28], here. Just real quick, was that inmate at the DC Jail the first inmate at the DC jail to die from COVID-19?

Muriel Bowser: (20:36)
Yes.

Bennet: (20:39)
Okay. And then we thought in the Human Service’s data that it looks like 14 more people in homeless shelters have tested positive in one day. Do we know what’s going on there? And what is attributed that to that increase?

Muriel Bowser: (20:57)
I do have the numbers in front of me. I can’t confirm what the increase was. I have the total numbers, but let me step back for a moment, because throughout our response we are certainly very concerned about vulnerable populations. We’ve reported out pretty consistently on several groups of people.

Muriel Bowser: (21:19)
One being our first responders. We have reported out the number of people testing positive, or on quarantine. But we have also tested out, reported out consistently about the people in our care, including at DYRS, in shelters, at Saint Elizabeth’s as well. So what I asked my team to do is to prepare a comprehensive report for DC residents about everything that we are doing to make sure that residents in our care, and our staff, are receiving all of the equipment that they need and supplies, as well as following all of the DOH and CDC guidelines for quarantining people in congregate settings.

Muriel Bowser: (22:20)
So we will look forward to having a more comprehensive report out to you this week about all of our vulnerable populations. But to your specific question, let me ask one of our operations team to get back to you on the increase in shelter.

Bennet: (22:39)
Thank you. And I have two more questions. Where are we at getting a thousand beds, additional beds online by April 15th? And how many are hospitalized with COVID-19, currently. And I’ll add the caveat that I understand that that includes the out-of-district residents too.

Muriel Bowser: (22:56)
We are on track to work with our hospital providers to increase our capacity of hospital beds, what we call within their four walls, or on their campus. And we are on track to have that increase as we have projected. And we continue to work on the what we call alternate care facility that will be offsite from our hospitals and be located at the Washington Convention Center. And Chris and his team are working with the Army Corps of Engineers on that build out. And the second part of your question was what?

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (23:37)
The hospitalized.

Bennet: (23:38)
How many are hospitalized currently? And if we look like we will need all a thousand additional beds this week?

Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt: (23:46)
We have 295 individuals who are hospitalized in the acute care environment. 94 are hospitalized in the ICU, and 31 being reported as in the ICU, requiring ventilators-

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt: (24:02)
… without one hospital reporting.

Bennet: (24:10)
And then lastly, how are the rapid tests going to be deployed that the public health lab now has and how many tests has the public health lab and processing?

Muriel Bowser: (24:24)
We haven’t determined the deployment strategy yet for those additional units and we haven’t received all of the sampling kits, though I think Dr. Smith expects them maybe today or this week. And what was the second part of that question?

Bennet: (24:44)
How many tests have been conducted by the public health lab in recent days? I know the capacity is 500 but how many have the lab been processing in a recent days? Every day.

Speaker 2: (24:56)
So as of today we process 2,442 samples.

Bennet: (25:03)
I’m sorry, say that again?

Speaker 2: (25:05)
2,442 samples.

Bennet: (25:09)
Got it.

Muriel Bowser: (25:10)
Okay. Are there any other questions?

Bennet: (25:12)
Then my last one, and I think the [inaudible 00:25:17] would be interested in this one too. How does the city know when, what metrics is the city using to determine whether we’re flattening the curve?

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt: (25:27)
We use a host of measures to be able to determine that, and those are things like the rate of transmission, being able to see a decrease in that. It’s important for people to note that the number of new cases is only one indicator, the number of hospitalizations and the number of deaths that occurred lag behind the number of new cases, because people’s hospitalizations or their severity of illness may follow their diagnosis as a new case and then people may have long length of hospital stays unfortunately before their death if a death should occur. And so there’s a number of things that we track to be able to see if we are flattening the curve.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt: (26:15)
Other things to know too as we continue to learn more about this viruses is that we may have people in our community who develop symptoms, may be at home with a mild form of illness and then present for testing and then we receive laboratory confirmation of that testing, making them a new case, and so we have to account for when we would make any definitive decisions about whether or not we are seeing a flattening of that curve because of those potential lags and the onset of symptoms and people presenting for testing right now. It appears that that may be around five days of that lag time here in the district.

Muriel Bowser: (27:00)
Okay. Last round. Yes. Yes. Sophie, are you there?.

Sophie : (27:06)
Hi, good morning. Yes. Yes. Hello. My first question, I have three. On Friday you announced action to give good time credit to release the misdemeanors from the jail. I was wondering if you are taking further action to release the other half that are leftover from action?

Muriel Bowser: (27:24)
Let me make sure I understand your question. The other half of?

Sophie : (27:29)
On Friday, the action you took released about half of the misdemeanors that were in jail, so I was wondering if you are taking action for the half that remain.

Muriel Bowser: (27:37)
I think that we have reviewed everybody who is eligible for early, earlier release and based on our experience in the charges that that is our recommendation at that time, at this time.

Sophie : (27:59)
Okay, and then has the district procured or is it the district looking to procure any machine or device that sanitizes PPE for it to be reused?

Chris Rodriguez: (28:08)
Yeah. This is Chris Rodriguez. Yes, we have. The federal government has gotten us, I think a lot of people have seen in the press these Battelle machines that serve to sanitize some of the masks and so we will be having that machine and that was given as part of a larger supply shipment for the national Capitol region. So we are going to be working with that with Maryland and Virginia.

Sophie : (28:40)
Okay. And then I have one last question. I think a couple of weeks ago the district was seeing higher people dying in home instead of in hospitals. I was wondering if that, or seeing a couple of instances where that is happening. I was wondering if that was still occurring, or you’re seeing fewer people dying in home instead of going to the hospital.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt: (29:01)
I would not refer to it as a trend that we’ve seen. It’s an observation that we’ve had where it’s occurred in some instances, which is again another thing that Mayor Bowser has highlighted and we’ve recommended to the community as we have referenced our stay at home messaging and really encouraged individuals in our community who are showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 so call ahead to their healthcare provider to get guidance as to whether or not they can stay at home and recover and provide themselves treatment at home using over the counter medications and staying hydrated at home and getting an assessment as to whether or not their symptoms are mild, or getting guidance and advice from their healthcare provider that they should come in and receive an assessment from their healthcare provider in person, or if they are having a medical emergency, they should activate the 911 system and get the care that they receive immediately.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt: (30:05)
For members of our community who do not have a healthcare provider. We have a resource that is available to them, 1 855-363-0333 and they will be able to get that clinical assessment that they need to be able to make those decisions. So we want to make sure that members of our community know that the stay at home message should not be interpreted as staying at home and not receiving the care that you need related to COVID-19.

Muriel Bowser: (30:38)
May I just add one thing unrelated to your question, but I meant to mention it earlier because on Friday we were over at Gonzaga High School and the President of the school, Father Planning, spoke to us. He greeted us. And Father Planning was one among the first people infected with COVID-19 in the district. He lived with I think five other Jesuit priests. And the thing that he said that really stuck with me, because I wasn’t even aware of the level of contact that our Department of Health officials have with each person. But he talked about how he was contacted by DOH, Dr. Nesbitt, I’m not sure if you had an opportunity to hear him to learn about the two previous weeks before his infection. And he said he was expecting that because he knew contract tracing would be happening.

Muriel Bowser: (31:41)
What he wasn’t expecting was the consistent calls that he got from DOH, asking how he was doing, what he needed, and his brother priests had a similar experience. And then he reported to us how he had recovered in the 18 days of quarantine and what that meant in his life. But the point that he wanted to make was the doctors and the staff at DOH had treated him exceptionally well and followed him through this quarantine period. So Dr. Nesbitt, I want to thank you and your team for just the outstanding care that you’re showing to our residents.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt: (32:20)
Thank you.

Muriel Bowser: (32:28)
Stephanie, are you there?

Speaker 5: (32:29)
Maybe not. We can go to Martin At WAMU.

Muriel Bowser: (32:29)
Martin, are you there? Martin WAMU.

Martin: (32:44)
Yeah. Mayor, how are you? I’m just following up on the situation in the DC jail, obviously like Sophie said, you released some people last week and there have been moves to get some misdemeanants out of DC jail. But there’s a lot of folks in the DC jail that are held under a variety of other charges or under other people’s custody like the US Marshall service and that sort of stuff. Have you had conversations with them or has anybody in the city had conversations with federal agencies about what they could do about potentially getting people out of DC jail at this point?

Muriel Bowser: (33:14)
Well Martin, we’ve consistently been having those conversations. Kevin, Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue has reported in this setting before all of the different strategies that the DC courts, NPD, US attorney have been deploying to drive down the numbers of people being brought into the system and the people who are being appropriately released, in addition to the protocols being implemented at the jail.

Muriel Bowser: (33:49)
So we can expect to have a fuller conversation with you when Kevin is here to talk about all of those strategies and how they’re being used. The strategies are working. We will be able to tell you the number, for example, the census that we started at the beginning of the public health emergency and the census at the DC jail today is pretty significantly down and I’m going to have to ask Kevin to give you those specific numbers.

Martin: (34:28)
Excellent. And then just one last quick question. What’s the testing protocol that you know of at DC jail? Is it only really when people show symptoms, is there something a little more extensive given that these are people in a congregate setting that don’t have the ability to socially distance easily? How do you go about testing that population?

Muriel Bowser: (34:45)
Let me as Dr. Nesbitt, If she has the latest from DC jail.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt: (34:50)
So we work very closely with the medical team and the medical staff at DC Department of Corrections to be able to develop a quarantine and isolation plan. Given that they have, for the size of the facility and their access to two facilities, they have the ability to quarantine and isolate the inmates in the facility and to monitor them aggressively throughout the day, as well as an aggressive screening of employees in the facility and the use of personal protective equipment appropriate for the units, the quarantine units, the isolation units, and the other units throughout the facility. Based on that, the current recommendation is informed by CDC guidelines is to use testing as appropriate for individuals who screen positive for symptoms at this time.

Muriel Bowser: (35:53)
Okay. Yes.

Speaker 4: (35:59)
[inaudible 00:35:59] serology testing, and when that would be available, who would it be available to?

Speaker 4: (36:02)
How is it going to work?

Dr. Jennifer Smith: (36:06)
So, right now we are evaluating a testing system, an instrument that can do the serology testing. We are waiting for final approval of that by the FDA, and we anticipate that that’s going to happen here in the next week. And that will allow us to get reagents and ingredients in to do the verification of the test to make sure it works. And so we should be ready to do that by May.

Speaker 4: (36:33)
And then who would qualify for that? Who would be able to get that test, and where would it be done? Is it going to be done by the city?

Dr. Jennifer Smith: (36:43)
So, we will work with D.C. Health to make those decisions. And it’s kind of like when you do this testing, what questions do we want to answer? So, we’ll be working with Dr. Nesbitt and her team to determine what are those questions we’ll be asking and how we will utilize this test. What’s important about these serology tests is that they actually are sensitive and specific, and that’s all rolling out right now. So, there are a lot of potential tests on the horizon, and we have our eye on one of them.

Speaker 4: (37:10)
And I have a question from [inaudible 00:37:14]. This is from [inaudible 00:37:16]. If you could, can you explain the need for the closure of each drive and what areas of each drive will be closed? Why did you make this decision? And then, are you working with Maryland to extend the closure into Maryland across the D.C. line?

Muriel Bowser: (37:36)
The part of Beach Drive that is closed on the weekends already will be closed during the week now. So that same stretch of roadway will be closed seven days a week through April 30th. And more than that, Fort DuPont Park, the parkway there will be closed, and it’s for recreational use. And the idea is to kind of drive down kind of peak demand just on the weekends, so people have more days, seven days a week, opportunity to use it for recreational purposes.

Speaker 4: (38:19)
And then can I just ask, because we had some audio trouble in the beginning of the press conference-

Muriel Bowser: (38:19)
Okay, sorry.

Speaker 4: (38:24)
Can you just go over again what is now available to families as far as the free meals and the phone hotline? Who should be calling if they need delivery?

Muriel Bowser: (38:36)
Right, so the hotline. Folks who are home bound and can’t get food or essential services should use the hotline. And let me make sure I have the right number. You can call 1-888-349-8323. Also, on our website is coronavirus.dc.gov/gethelp. The second thing that we made available today is at 10 of our DCPS meal sites. From the very beginning of DCPS closures, you are aware that there are schools throughout the city where our students, any student, can go for their school meals. In addition to that, we have made some grocery items available for families that they can also take with them. And these are for families who have food needs.

Muriel Bowser: (39:37)
And so, it’s first come, first served, and you show up at those sites and let them know that you want some groceries. And I don’t know all the different things, but there will be some shelf stable items and some fresh items. And I think that we have them set up in another room, and you can go. Some families are familiar with how we’ve done this with other partners throughout the year at different times of the month. We will have the ability for a family to bag some groceries and take those groceries home.

Speaker 7: (40:09)
Mayor, and then Stephanie from WSA9, her question was about April 24 is when business is supposed to be open. How will you go about making the determination if they open?

Muriel Bowser: (40:21)
Oh, so thanks for that question. The April 24th date refers to the emergency declaration, the 45 days that we asked the council to approve. In the last piece of emergency legislation, we asked the council to authorize up to another 45 days. We will update all of our mayor’s orders to reflect extensions beyond April 24th, more than likely, and we will be getting to those decisions probably a week out.

Speaker 4: (40:58)
[inaudible 00:40:58] a week from now. Is that what you’re saying?

Muriel Bowser: (41:02)
No, a week from the 24th.

Speaker 4: (41:02)
Oh, a week before the 24th, you would announce schools and other closures.

Muriel Bowser: (41:11)
More than likely.

Sam: (41:17)
One quick question here. Can you talk about the violence? Apparently, there has been no let up in violence since this thing began. I think there were two homicides this morning, somebody told me. Do you have anything to say about that?

Muriel Bowser: (41:33)
We had a very, very tough weekend in D.C., Sam, and I’m glad you asked me about it. I know you asked the chief the same question on Friday. And I got a very quick briefing this morning. And after the chief’s briefing with his team, I’m going to have more conversations about what happened over the weekend and if it requires any different deployments across the city. I know that we had some gun violence. Some of it may have been related. And so that’s the information that we will get today. We still continue to ask people to tell us about illegal guns, to reach out to our offices, our one’s office is still working, and to let us know about if we know about any incidents brewing so that we can get the necessary resources there, our gun units, our police units, our policing. And we know that we will find the perpetrators of these crimes.

Dr. Jennifer Smith: (42:42)
And our department of forensic science lab is still open too, to follow up on the mayor’s point, that we’re still processing the evidence. We’re collecting the evidence. So we will continue to support the investigations.

Sam: (42:55)
Are you saying that [inaudible 00:42:57], Dr. Jen?

Dr. Jennifer Smith: (43:01)
As it goes with the flow of any violent crimes, you will see an increase in work, but I’m happy to say I’m very proud of my staff, that they’re continuing to work through this, through a variety of options. In some cases, we have people who are coming in over the weekends. We are incorporating telework into that. But the Department Of Forensic Sciences is providing full services not only for the public health but also in support of the crimes that are ongoing. So to the mayor’s point, we will find these individuals and hold them accountable.

Sam: (43:31)
Can I follow up on that. One of the last times we had [inaudible 00:43:34], I asked about these people in the crime scene units and whether or not they were being treated as first responders when it came to testing. Had that changed? What’s the status? Are those people now being afforded the same type of testing that a police officer and firefighter would get?

Dr. Jennifer Smith: (43:52)
Yes, they have access to the UMC drive through system if they want. They also always have had access to their care providers to get testing through that source.

Sam: (44:03)
Dr. Smith, I noticed that you listed I guess 400 people had been tested since April the 4th.

Muriel Bowser: (44:11)
At UMC?

Sam: (44:12)
At UMC.

Dr. Jennifer Smith: (44:14)
Yes.

Sam: (44:20)
But the point is it didn’t seem like that’s near capacity. Is it time to open it up to anybody that wants to get tested?

Speaker 9: (44:23)
Oh, we follow the district’s priority groups for testing. Which includes individuals who have symptoms.

Sam: (44:31)
Right, right. But what I’m saying is it seems that we’re nowhere near capacity since it started. So if that’s the case, because I saw some jurisdictions that are opening it up to anybody.

Speaker 9: (44:44)
I’m not familiar with what other jurisdictions have done who have opened it up to everyone. We are familiar that some jurisdictions have had to close their sites within a matter of days due to having loose requirements that did not follow priority testing and now they have no supplies to test very sick people.

Sam: (45:04)
Okay, so it doesn’t sound like you’re going to be doing it anytime soon.

Muriel Bowser: (45:10)
Well, as long as we have a scarcity of supply, we are going to do what’s most medically efficacious for the district. But to your point, Sam, we don’t want anybody out there who thinks they have symptoms and they don’t have anywhere to go or they can’t get in touch with their provider or they don’t know what to do. So we want them to call us and ask us through this medical screening where they can be referred to testing or to a provider, but we want people to reach out. If I could have the slide that has the school sites again, let me just call them out. So again, the school grocery sites, not all of the school meal sites have grocery options, but these do. Brooklyn Middle School in Ward five, Kelly Miller in Ward seven, Coolidge in Ward four, Anacostia in Ward eight, Ballou in Ward eight, Eastern High School in Ward six, Stanton Elementary in Ward eight, Woodson High School in Ward seven, Kimball elementary in Ward seven and Columbia Heights Education Campus in Ward one.

Sam: (46:21)
Just on the dates listed?

Muriel Bowser: (46:23)
On the dates listed. Okay, I got it. So there’s a schedule, so you should really look at coronavirus.DC.gov because on Mondays, we’re at two locations, on Tuesdays at an additional two and so forth and so forth. Okay. Thank you everybody.