Jan 22, 2021
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Press Conference on Biden Inauguration, COVID-19 Vaccines January 22
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser held a news briefing on January 22 providing updates on Biden’s inauguration and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:01)
Now we bring you the following live press announcement from DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser. Our regularly scheduled program will resume following the announcement.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (00:14)
Good afternoon, everyone, I’m Muriel Bowser. I’m the Mayor of Washington DC. I’m joined today by members of our public health and public safety teams, including Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Dr. Chris Rodriguez, and Chief of Metropolitan Police, Robert Conti. We will begin today by providing an update on the 59th Inauguration and then provide a brief update on our vaccine rollout. Yesterday, of course, was a very special day for our Republic. I was honored and proud to represent 712,000 Washingtonians in welcoming our new President and Vice-President. I want to thank the many, many people who helped make yesterday such a success, starting out with the Biden Inaugural Planning Committee. They planned, what I thought was a very thoughtful, inspirational and dignified inauguration that both celebrated the fresh start that they bring, but also respected the moment.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (01:26)
I want to also thank the members of Congress who made the event so special, especially Senator Klobuchar, and Blunt, who hosted for the Congress, and I especially want to thank them for the care that they took in making everyone feel secure. I also want to thank DC residents and Americans, all Americans, for enjoying the events virtually. I had the chance to see part of the virtual presentation, which I think respected their traditions, but also beautifully highlighted our city. So thank you to all of them. I also want to thank DC residents for enduring the street closures and the intense security measures that we all saw. I know that we will continue working together to keep our city safe, but assessable, and all of the security agencies who had to put in place their plans almost a full week earlier than they expected and intensify those plans, I want to say thank you to them.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (02:44)
The United States Secret Service of course, is the lead agency for all national special security events. The Special Agent in charge joined us for the press presentation before the events and we want to thank them and the entire Service, the Department of Homeland Security, especially their most recent Acting Secretary, Pete Gaynor, whom we know well from his leadership at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. We also want to thank Pete Gaynor and MaryAnn Tierney, the 2,500 police officers who came to DC from across the nation. Chief Conti knows well that every inauguration, we put out an assistance call to police departments around the country, and we’re grateful to all of them who responded to the call. The federal law enforcement agencies, of course, many of which we work with day in and day out in the District, and we want to thank them as well, US Park Police, the United States Capitol Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco and Firearms as well. I also want to thank our neighbors in Maryland and Virginia for their support and the National Guard, our DC National Guard especially, and all the troops that came in from around the country. Our thanks to you. I also want to say a thank you to our teams in particular, who have worked over the course of, I think, the better part of a year in helping to plan for the inauguration and also led the pivot that we needed post January 6th, to ensure a safe and orderly inauguration. I want to thank my entire Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center, and I want to thank the Metropolitan Police Department, DC Fire and EMS, DC Homeland Security, DC Public Works, DC Department of Transportation, the Office of Unified Communications, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Health, Human Services, and all of the DC government workers, our comms team, who is helping keep people posted as well. I want to thank you for that.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (05:12)
There are many, many public servants who have been putting in extremely long hours in our COVID response and even more during the response and the preparation for this year’s inauguration. I also want to thank the many local restaurants who played a role in reaching out to the visiting troops and law enforcement officers, and you can see a full list of those restaurants posted here. My ask to DC residents is that you continue to support these restaurants and all of our local restaurants and businesses. This has been a tough week for businesses inside an already tough year. We also have Restaurant Week coming up next week, and many restaurants have deals, including takeout deals, and you can learn more by going to R-A-M-W.org. So thank you to them and let’s do all that we can, as we are able to support our local businesses.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (06:17)
Now that the inauguration is over, the work of the new administration is just beginning. You have seen road openings already beginning in the areas around the mall on in downtown that were closed. Yesterday evening, crews began removing barriers and fencing or major streets and opening garages that were blocked. The process we’re told will take approximately 36 hours, so we do continue to appreciate your patience. You will recall that we put in place a holiday pause on phase two activities related to our COVID restrictions. We extended that holiday pause, if you will, to be an inaugural pause and that pause will end Friday, January the 22nd at 5:00 AM. That means that restaurants can allow indoor dining as long as capacity does not exceed 25%. On the other paused activities is forthcoming, there were several on government activities that are included there. Also, let me mention a little about the COVID vaccine. Let me just say that we look forward to working with the Biden Administration to figure out how we can get more doses of vaccine to the people of Washington. The President will be sharing more information about his COVID response plan this afternoon and we are eager to learn more. We know that demand in DC is very high. We know too, from our sister cities around the country, that they too are experiencing high demand for the vaccine and scarcity of vaccine. So we will continue to advocate for more doses so that we can protect more people in Washington more quickly.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (08:25)
For example, let me just give you some numbers and we’re happy to take questions about it later. As of January the 16th, DC had received 62,200 doses. We administered over 41,000 doses and we have had 6,500 additional doses becoming available this week, the administration of those doses are in various stages of scheduling and people going in to make their appointments. The numbers make it clear that we’re getting on the doses out, our systems to get them are working, but we simply don’t have enough vaccine to meet the demand in our city.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (09:20)
We also have a detailed plan to continue being able to do so. You can see from this chart, for example, what we expect for next week, this number changes and we often don’t know exactly what the number is until mid week. So you can see, we will receive over 8,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 5,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine. We’ve explained here that those vaccines have different storage requirements, which lead to how DC Health portions them and recommends their use. So you can see the breakdown of how the Moderna doses will be delivered this week. The 2,900, almost 3000 doses will be available through the VaccinateDC website for DC residents over the age of 65 or healthcare workers to make appointments. Then you can see some other ways that the vaccine is being distributed, including to help vaccinate DC residents who live in intermediate care facilities or community residential group homes, DC residents who are experiencing homelessness as well.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (10:49)
You also see the various hospitals that will receive additional doses of vaccine, some to help vaccinate a priority group and others to support their patients. Dr. Nesbitt, will say a little bit more about a partnership with Sibley Johns Hopkins to vaccinate at senior housing facilities. This is a new initiative that we will start this week. Going forward, we intend to release appointments on Thursday at 9:00 AM to eligible residents in priority zip codes and Friday at 9:00 AM to residents in all zip codes and that’s 3000 appointments, for example, approximately 3000 appointments that effect next week. We’ve listed the priority zip codes here, which largely cover Wards one, four, five, seven, and eight. Next week, DC Health is also rolling out an initiative that will target seniors as I mentioned, in DC Housing Authority property. So Dr. Nesbitt, if you would say a little bit more.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (12:10)
Sure, thank you, Madam Mayor. You all will recall that we’ve talked at length about the way that we establish our phases and our tiers within our phases, primarily focusing on those individuals who have the highest risk of severe illness and death, based on a couple of factors, our rollout of individuals who are over the age of 65 was one of them, and then also focusing on individuals who are of what is commonly referred to as essential workers. The reason why we prioritize them is because they help us to preserve our societal functions. Part of what we know is that outside of what has been traditionally referred to as long-term care facilities, or our assisted living residences and skilled nursing facilities, we have other places where people who are typically seniors or people over the age of 65 live, some of them include our intermediate-care facilities or community residential facilities or group homes. They’re not always people who are over 65, but they may have other unique needs and challenges.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (13:23)
We talked often about that vulnerable population here when we were presenting our COVID data to you all in terms of who was having a disproportionate burden of disease and death. Many of them are supported by our Department of Disability Services and our Department of Behavioral Health. As the Mayor previously highlighted, we have dedicated doses of the vaccine and partnerships with healthcare providers to be able to initiate vaccination with them next week. That was critically important for us, and you’ll recall when you refer to your phases and tiers that that’s part of our congregate setting initiative, along-
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (14:03)
… that that’s part of our congregate setting initiative, along with our commitment to ensuring that individuals experiencing homelessness in the district, who’ve also been at increased risk for acquiring the infection, will be able to receive vaccines voluntarily.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (14:16)
Another group are seniors who live in public housing that are dedicated to seniors. We’ve identified 14 properties in the district, across the District of Columbia, where seniors who live in these communities may face unique challenges with accessing the vaccine in community settings that we’ve identified. The community settings that we have identified, the pharmacies, the senior centers, the rec centers, and even our healthcare providers such as our federally qualified health centers that have provided care to these seniors for a long time, and have a huge commitment to providing care in the safety net, also comment that some of these seniors who live in these housing communities may have transportation challenges. Or even with the transportation network that is put together for them, the seniors may be a little reluctant to schedule appointments at these sites because of the coordination that is required for scheduling their transport.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (15:14)
So we’ve identified these 14 properties that have 100 or 200 seniors who live in them, and have partnered with Sibley Johns Hopkins to administer the vaccine to them on the properties. And that initiative will begin next week. So we’re very excited about these two opportunities to vaccinate more people who are in Phase 1-B, Tier 1. And we’re very excited again about that.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (15:45)
So you’ll note that even with our limited supply of vaccine that we’re receiving, that’s simply not enough to meet demand. We’ve been able to dedicate doses of vaccine in the coming week to these critically important efforts. Thank you, Madam Mayor.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (15:59)
Thank you Dr. Nesbitt. And let me just say one, a couple more things about the vaccine, and then we will move on. This week, we also announced another group of DC employees to be vaccinated. And this actually tracks with the Department of Health’s earlier announced targeting date. So this is going to meet that. In-person staff, including teachers and support staff for DC public schools and DC public charter schools. And so each of those employees, eligible employees will get an email from their organization.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (16:45)
DC Health and DCPS is partnering with Children’s to vaccinate DCPS staff. Eligible staff members, as I mentioned, will receive a direct communication.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (16:59)
Similarly, DC public charter schools will receive guidance from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education regarding the charter school vaccination program also starting next week.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (17:11)
We’ve had a few inquiries about childcare workers as well. And the truth is if we had more vaccine, they would be included in next week’s round too. But the reality is we’re working as fast as we can with the vaccine that’s available. Our plan is still to prioritize childcare workers and get them out just as soon as possible.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (17:44)
You will also remember that Dr. Nesbitt explained our current phases and tiers, and explained that the order is based on recommendations that we’ve received around the prevention of morbidity and mortality, and the preservation of societal functions. In terms of prevention of morbidity and mortality, the first populations began receiving the vaccines. After health care workers, were individuals in nursing homes, then followed by district residents over the age of 65.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (18:22)
And in terms of their preservation of societal functions, the first populations to receive the vaccine were healthcare workers, now followed by public school teachers, and next followed by the Metropolitan Police Department and members of the government who continue government operations.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (18:44)
So that is our update for the week. And we will take questions. Yes, sir.
Good afternoon, Mayor Bowser. First I wanted to check with Chief Contee. Is there any update in the death investigation of Officer Sicknick?
Robert J. Contee: (19:06)
No, it’s still… Okay, no updates, no public updates at this point. That remains under investigation.
I appreciate the update on barriers coming down in the city. Do you have any updates on when we can expect to see the National Guard leave?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (19:22)
The National Guard will be leaving out of the city in a wave, and I’ll have Director Rodriguez talk about the dates we have requested.
Christopher Rodriguez: (19:34)
Yep. Thank you for the question. The out-of-state National Guard will begin going home today. And we have requested because we do anticipate that there will be another National Special Security Event occurring in the joint session of Congress, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Department, we’ve made a request for continued National Guard support with traffic management and crowd control through January 30th.
Do you have any specifics on how many National Guard that would entail.
Christopher Rodriguez: (20:08)
Do you have numbers? So we had 21,000 in the district for the inauguration. For the next specialist security event that you’re talking about, do you know how many National Guard will be there?
Christopher Rodriguez: (20:18)
Well, those numbers are being worked out right now. So we have to work with the US Secret Service for any National Special Security Event is the lead federal agency for determining those numbers.
Okay. Thank you. And there’s some reports Mayor Bowser, that the field of flags has started to come down. Can you confirm when the field of flags and pillars of light displays will be removed? How long will that take and will there be an opportunity for the public to take a look?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (20:45)
Unfortunately, I think that the Presidential Inauguration Committee and the National Parks Service had an agreement of when they will come down. So I don’t know that they will be up through the weekend.
They’re expected to come down sometime this weekend?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (21:01)
No, I think they’re expected to come down before that. It would be my hope that they leave it up this weekend, but that may be too late.
Okay. And it wouldn’t be accessible to the public at that point.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (21:13)
What, if it’s took down? How would it be accessible.
Well, I guess before. It won’t be accessible to the public any time before it comes down? I guess I want to get clarification.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (21:22)
I don’t know if they started to take it down today or not. If it’s coming down today, it would be difficult for the public to access it.
Okay. And do you have a ballpark estimate as to how much erecting the fences across the city that we saw for the inauguration costs, and how much it will cost to take them down once they’re all down?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (21:43)
I do not know, but that will be a question for the Secret Service.
When will the fence between Black Lives Matter Plaza and Lafayette Square come down?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (21:55)
You talking about around The White House?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (21:58)
I don’t have the answer to that either.
Mark Morales: (22:03)
Hi everybody. Thank you so much. Just to be clear, when you say that…
Speaker 2: (22:06)
Mark Morales: (22:07)
Oh, sorry. Mark Morales with CNN. When you say that the National Guard won’t be leaving until January 30th for crowd control reasons and obviously traffic, but… I want to ask more about the crowd control. Do you mean that there’s going to… Do you guys anticipate any sort of large gatherings? I mean, obviously we’re all very concerned about white extremist groups, but are there any groups that are troubling you, any groups that you anticipate or think might be coming in here that you would need those crowd control measures to be taken?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (22:39)
Let me be clear and amplify a point Director Rodriguez made. The out-of-state Guard, when Michael just said they’re 21,000 Guard, most of those are out-of-state Guard, and those Guard are going back to their states. The DC National Guard, we are maintaining some Guard presence through the 30th. And we are also evaluating now the rest of the year, the next three weeks, the next six weeks, what we think would be intelligence from our federal partners that would suggest that we need more presence. Keeping in mind that I’ve directed Director Rodriguez and his team to begin working with our partners on an enhanced posture to deal with the threat of white extremism and any other threat to our city.
Mark Morales: (23:36)
Just want to be clear there’s some things, is there a specific threat as to causing why the National Guard would have to be here until the 30th for the crowd control specifically?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (23:49)
Do you want to… I think I answered your question, but I’ll have Chris say it another way.
Christopher Rodriguez: (23:54)
Mark, let’s be clear, the threat of right wing extremism is here. And we saw it on January 6th. And it will continue to be a persistent and real threat to the District of Columbia and to our region as well. And so what the Mayor has asked me and my team to do in collaboration, of course, with Chief Contee and his team and our other public safety agencies, is to think about what the short, medium and longterm posture of the District should be to counter the persistent threats that we face. And so that’s what we’re doing.
Christopher Rodriguez: (24:32)
We have already had through the Mayor’s leadership, great interaction with the new administration in helping us to think through and to develop new partnerships with the Biden administration in order to make sure that we’re putting the proper strategies in place, both at the strategic level and at the tactical level, to make sure that we’re keeping our city safe.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (24:56)
A couple of questions on security and things that happened yesterday. Mayor Bowser, for you, what was it like to oversee the inauguration play out the way it did, especially knowing the security threats and knowing that you do not have control of all of the security that went on?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (25:17)
Well, we are very grateful, as I mentioned to the United States Secret Service, who is responsible for National Special Security Events. I was pleased that our requests to make the event safer were met by the federal government, from starting the special event earlier, from expanding the perimeter in some cases, to making sure that our intelligence briefings, that everyone was focused on a domestic threat, from having the declaration declared earlier, which I think ensured the federal assistance that we needed. So I am very pleased with that level of cooperation. And as Chris mentioned, we also established very, I think, good contacts in the new administration so that we can work in tandem on a strengthened posture.
About the National Guard, DC National Guard staying through, are you requesting that they continue armed?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (26:38)
I’m not going to necessarily talk about those specifics. And keep in mind that I think the current request is for a few more days. But that’s not to suggest that we’re not going to need Guard assistance for other events.
And then also when it comes to future events, given what we saw on January 6th, the permit had been increased days before going from… The number was to 30,000 participants expected. Will the city be requesting changes as to what is considered an NSSE event when it comes to public demonstrations, even though it’s on federal property and not-
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (27:16)
Yeah, I doubt that, although, because the NSSE is a very specific set of events, we will request that any meeting of any joint session of Congress would be, in my view, should be a Special Security Event. And I don’t know that there are that many joint sessions of Congress outside of the State of the Union, but certainly the certification of votes is one that has been pretty uneventful, I think. I’ve never even seen any focus on that until this year. But I think it’s very clear to me that any joint session of Congress should be a Special Security Event.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (28:03)
A joint session of Congress should be a special security event or some package like that. Yes, sir?
Speaker 3: (28:11)
Yes ma’am. I think you’ve talked about it, but basically when is DC going to look normal again without fences and all that stuff? Today’s Thursday. What are we talking on that?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (28:21)
I think for the most part, the kind of restrictions on driving will be over by tomorrow morning. A lot of it is down today, so a lot of the major routes and corridors will be down today. Now, we do need the public’s assistance on some other aspect of DC being normal, and that’s all the boards that we see on businesses. We saw boards before last week. We’ve seen boards throughout COVID and throughout summer protests, and so part of looking normal is for those boards to come down. I know, Chief, do you want to mention anything else about boards?
Robert J. Contee III : (29:02)
Yes. Thank you, Madam Mayor. Yeah, so we are certainly encouraging businesses to, as we break down these barriers, these fences, the cinder block barriers, that we’re asking that everyone just joined in with us to include the business community and removing some of these boards that have been put up, as the mayor said. The quicker that we get back to some sense of normalcy in our city, I think it will be in the best interest to overall recovery of our city.
Speaker 3: (29:32)
When do you think your boards or your barriers will be down?
Robert J. Contee III : (29:36)
Well, the goal right now, as the mayor mentioned, they started last night coming down and we’re anticipating, hopefully by tomorrow morning by 6:00, everything that we have control over those barriers will be down. We started working on the deconstruction of these fences. They started working from east to west, so just on the way here, just kind of checked in on the progress. As of about 11:30, as the mayor mentioned, all that progress is being made there. All the bridges are open from Virginia and Maryland into the city. The bridges within DC are all open, so we’re just continuing to do the things that we need to do to make sure that our city is open and ready for business.
Speaker 3: (30:19)
Mayor, I saw a video of you I’m sitting there and the president running over to say something. What did he say? What was that about?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (30:27)
Well, he said, “Madam Mayor.” And I said, “Welcome, Mr. President,” and how glad we were that he was moving into the White House. It wasn’t, as you might imagine a president running along a parade route, it wasn’t a long conversation, but it was definitely warm and appreciated. Yes?
Speaker 4: (30:46)
A follow up on the National Guard request. If you are doing it because of the upcoming joint session, and correct me if I’m wrong.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (30:55)
No, we haven’t made a request related to the joint session yet.
Speaker 4: (30:58)
I thought that’s what the director said, that there’s an upcoming NSSE event, and that’s why you had requested that they say through January 30th, but that would not, I don’t believe, be until sometime in February.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (31:08)
Yeah, we haven’t. Chris may have misspoke about the date, but we’re kind of winding down our National Guard, the DC National Guard through the 30th.
Speaker 4: (31:20)
And then so they would leave on the 30th, and then theoretically for a joint session in February, they would come back as part of NSSE?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (31:29)
Again, the United States Secret Service runs the NSSEs, and we will work with them, and we will evaluate at the time what our local needs are.
Speaker 4: (31:40)
And my last security question. Chief Contee, just to follow up on the death investigation of the officer at the Capitol. Can you tell us, has it definitively been ruled a homicide? Do you know cause and manner as of this point?
Robert J. Contee III : (31:52)
No, it has not been definitively ruled a homicide, and the cause and manner, that will be made by the office of the chief medical examiner. I mean, obviously there are several tests that need to be completed. I don’t have the timeframe when the actual cause and manner will be determined, but I would imagine it should be in short order.
Speaker 4: (32:11)
But it’s being investigated. Well, how is it being investigated?
Robert J. Contee III : (32:15)
So obviously any death in the District of Columbia, the office of the chief medical examiner, I mean, they take in consideration all the facts surrounding the death, and then the doctors over there at the medical examiner’s office, again, they just make the final determination. They’ll tell us whether it’s natural causes. They’ll tell us whether it’s homicide, but it really just kind of depends on all the things that took place. In the case of the officer from the US Capitol Police, obviously there’s tons of video that they’re going over, interviews with individuals who encountered that officer while he was there in the Capitol. Look, there was some information out there that the officer got hit with the fire extinguisher. All of those things really have to be determined and see where the sequence of events, kind of what ultimately led to his death. Was it something internal, or was it something external that contributed to that? So, again, that decision is made by the office of the chief medical examiner.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (33:20)
Thank you, Mayor. Pardon me. I want to take the mask off. About the National Guard, I’m glad that you made a point that all the national National Guardsman from places other than the district are in the process of leaving or preparing to leave. I would ask Mr. Rodriguez how many National Guardsmen, who are all volunteers who’ve been called from their private jobs, how many are still on duty as of this moment?
Dr. Christopher Rodriguez: (33:49)
I don’t have that number offhand, Tom.
Is it roughly 2,000, or is it the whole National Guard for the District of Columbia?
Dr. Christopher Rodriguez: (33:55)
Well, the whole National Guard for the District of Columbia was activated for the inauguration, and I would note though that that’s not just the request of the city. As the mayor mentioned, the Secret Service runs the NSSE, and the federal government can make requests for the DC National Guard.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (34:09)
Including the United States Capitol.
Right, but the plan would be for them to go back to their regular job as soon as possible, but in an orderly way, right?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (34:16)
Yes, of course.
Okay. Let me ask about the private barriers on public buildings. I know you’re requesting that people take them down. Some of these barriers take up public space.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (34:27)
Are you talking about, when you say barriers, meaning-
Barriers, windows boarded downtown.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (34:32)
Boarded up, mm-hmm (affirmative).
They have the wooden beams that extend well out into the street and other places. It may sound bureaucratic, but is there some public space issue that if they don’t voluntarily take them down, you could certainly tell them to take them down, because they are violating public space?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (34:49)
There may be. There might be.
Okay. Then I have a question for Dr. Nesbitt, So she won’t feel left out. Dr. Nesbitt, you have been cautioning and you have been warning and asking people not to go to big events, and you’ve asked people to avoid big crowds, and you yourself have said you haven’t even gone to a restaurant indoors. The mayor honored you by taking you to the inauguration yesterday. I’d like to ask you your personal feelings about being there and seeing the peaceful transfer of power, but also how did you feel being in such a big crowd, and did you wash your hands afterwards?
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (35:31)
Tom never one to shy away from it from a personal question to Dr. Nesbitt, who is an introvert. So I was truly honored to accompany Mayor Bowser yesterday to what was absolutely a historic event for our nation, which meant a lot to me as a Black woman to see our vice president to take the oath of office, and I was honored to represent the district of Columbia. I was also honored to see so many of the mayor’s colleagues, other mayors around the country and other governors commend her for her leadership, leading the nation’s Capitol through the events over the past few weeks, but also in our response to COVID and how we’ve navigated the pandemic, and how many people commented about watching these press conferences and the questions you all provide to us and what they learn from what we have been able to put in place here.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (36:42)
So it was a tremendous honor to be a member of her team, to be a member of her cabinet, and to know that the admiration we have for her as our mayor is admiration other people have for her. So it was a great moment for me and so many different ways that I will reflect on and cherish for years to come, and we got a lot of TV time. I got a lot of comments about that afterward from a lot of my friends around the country.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (37:18)
In terms of large events, Tom, you know I’ve been a hermit for the greater part of probably the past 10 or 11 months in terms of being very judicious, because I believe in being a huge role model for our city and for our nation as a public health official in terms of where I will go and what it is that I will do. I have been a great partner with Dr. Brian Monaghan, the physician at the office of the attending physician who established the protocols for yesterday’s event in partnership with the other leadership for the Presidential Inauguration Committee and the Joint Congressional Committee for the Inaugural Ceremonies. It was a well-planned event. The public health advisors for the event did an extraordinary and a remarkable job in terms of our screening processes prior to attending the event, our screening processes as we arrived for the event, the seating for the event. A lot of the things that we worry about in public health for a large event with ingress and egress were all well attended to.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (38:33)
And yes, I did wash my hands. My hands, because of the temperature, remained gloved for the entire time, but as soon as we came indoors, I had the opportunity to wash my hands. But I do want to say it was a remarkable event. I think that the circumstances in our country at this time in terms of the peaceful transfer of power, and especially after what happened two weeks ago with the insurrection, calls for us to be able to have something scaled back that was not very large at all. For people to be able to witness this, the small number of people who were there, that certain circumstances called for our nation to be able to witness this with a small group of people in attendance.
And you were there, as the mayor said, to honor all the healthcare workers?
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (39:29)
That is correct. And the response to that, I think, has been remarkable, and people have been able to show a tremendous amount of pride in what our public health professionals have been through in the past several months in terms of responding to this pandemic, this once in a hundred years pandemic that we’re experiencing.
Thank you. And Mayor, I have just one quick bureaucratic question. Jeff Marootian is leaving to join the Biden Administration, DDOT. Did you name an interim or someone yet in charge of that? Did I miss it?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (40:04)
The deputy director for DDOT will serve in an interim capacity. His name is Everett Lott, and we will be posting the vacancy for DDOT director, and we certainly wish Jeff, who has done a really good job for us at DDOT across all eight wards on some very significant priorities for our administration, so we wish him well. All right. Okay. We can take one more swing around. Are you ready, Mark? Okay.
COVID questions. We can move on to [inaudible 00:12:41].
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (40:40)
So two questions on that front. One, your original pause, as you indicated, included many more places and businesses and activities than just restaurants. Can you tell us which ones will be turned back on or which ones will not be turned back on tomorrow? And then I have another question about vaccines.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (41:07)
I think that all of the … I want to get some clarity on the government services that have been turned off. Libraries, the limitations on recs, the circulator, those will remain paused, and I think that the only other is museums.
Yeah. How about museums and churches and retail? Will they …
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (41:29)
They weren’t affected by the pause.
None of those were affected by the pause?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (41:32)
Museums were, and so let me get back to you with some clarity on that.
Okay. And then on the rollout of vaccines, you have consistently said that you’re not getting enough allocated vaccines, but then we consistently see a large percentage of a lag between the vaccines that the district is allocated and how many shots in the arm. And so I guess the question is how can you complain about not getting enough shots, enough vaccines, if you’re not administering all the vaccines that you have been allotted? There seems to be-
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (42:02)
Well, I don’t …
… vaccines that you have been allotted. There seems to be-
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (42:03)
Well, I don’t want you to reduce my comments to complaining, and while we say we need more, everybody needs more and I recognize that. We’re a country of 300 million people, and I think so far 30 million … It’s growing, but about 30 million vaccines have been produced. Is that still right, Dr. Nesbitt? So we can just see that there’s a big delta there that we have to close.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (42:29)
So the system is that we have to schedule people when we have the vaccine then they have to make appointments and then they have to get the vaccine. That is the difference that you see. And Dr. Nesbitt told me that we remained, out of all the jurisdictions administering vaccine … and tell me the phrases that you will use about how we’re doing?
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (42:54)
We’re in the top tier, so our efficiency is … if you’re a high performer, you’re around 70%, and that’s where we are. We still don’t have good data coming in to our system where we produce these numbers for our long-term care partnership. However, all of the vaccine that’s been allocated to that, those vaccine clinics have been scheduled. So those vaccine clinics are planned, and the Federal government does account for that when they’re looking at our efficiency. The Mayor is exactly right.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (43:28)
So when you’re looking at that delta, Mark, that delta is never going to go away. It’s impossible for it to. It won’t go away until the program is over. Because when you look at administered, you have to take into consideration once we give a provider vaccine … and many of them do this rightfully. They don’t schedule out weeks in advance because they are doing the same thing we are doing, is we’re relying on a guarantee that we’re actually going to get doses of vaccine from the Federal government, and they’re relying on a guarantee from us that they’re going to get vaccine from us before they commit to a patient that they can come in next Thursday, two Fridays from now, and actually get a shot. Because they don’t want to be put in a position to having to call you, Mark, and tell you, “I’m sorry. I have to cancel you Friday at 3:00 PM because I didn’t get any doses of Moderna,” right?
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (44:19)
So what you actually see is a delta between when we actually get the doses, them having to be scheduled, people coming in and the dose actually being administered. That’s one gap. Then there’s a reporting requirement of the dose back to us in a required, mandated system that every jurisdiction who administers are responsible for administering and reporting the vaccine has. When we first started, some of our providers had a lag between putting that dose in somebody’s arm and reporting it back to us for as much as 7 or 12 days.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (44:55)
Now we’ve gotten that down. Most people are reporting within 72 hours. It should be within a day, but that’s why you are never going to see that be an exact one-to-one match. It has nothing to do with the doses not actually being administered. It has more to do with scheduling and a data of reporting lag. We’re almost there with people reporting within 24 hours, but we still got some who are out as far as 72 hours. Some of our providers say that the system that they use just won’t help them get there to 24 hours. But I want you to make sure you understand, as long as we’re at 70%, we’re top notch in terms of that administration, because of those two factors that play consistently into why once you get a dose and once you administer it, these other things have to happen.
[inaudible 00:45:45] please ask my ongoing question about wastage. Can you give us any data on wastage, [crosstalk 00:45:51]?
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (45:50)
Sure. I don’t have the data on wastage. It’s not in the system where we’re pulling other data from. Our data folks are working very hard to try to access other systems to get it, to pull it from providers. As soon as we have that data, we’ll provide it to you all. And we even raised some questions on a state call with the CDC in terms of better refining any data that they have on wastage so that as we make this data more publicly available we can contextualize it appropriately, so that the reasons for wastage can be very clear as well.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (46:26)
Dr. Nesbitt, your second shot. If you got Moderna the first time, do you have to get in Moderna the second time, or does it matter?
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (46:34)
Yes. It is recommended and required that you should get the same vaccine that you received for first dose, for second dose. There is no data available on the the ability to interchange the different types of COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved. So if you began with Moderna, your second dose should be Moderna. If you began with Pfizer, your second dose should be Pfizer.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (47:00)
I don’t know if this will … Dr. Nesbitt, if you may, when the temporary or holiday pause went into effect, that was December 23rd, we had a positivity rate of 4.7, daily case rate 31.75. I understand that, Mayor Bowser, you included some security reasons for why the temporary pause was extended, but looking at the numbers, a lot of them look to be higher than they are today then they were December 23rd. Can you kind of just go back and explain the metrics that we’re supposed to be looking at now for increasing or closing dining capacity so that these are not arbitrary decisions that are being made?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (47:39)
No, they’re not arbitrary. Let me jump in. These are all phase two activities. And the metrics, I don’t know if we have that slide up today, where we remained squarely in phase two, and we were taking advantage over the holiday to where we know that there could be more travel in gathering to recommend less of that with this pause. And we extended that through the inauguration, and those things are over. And as we indicated, then we’ll roll off on the pause to activity.
So what is the next metric then that we should be looking at to decide whether we’re going to go back to closing or phasing again?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (48:26)
What you’re looking at, the phase one, twos and threes?
What are the numbers? The positivity numbers, the [crosstalk 00:48:32].
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (48:32)
Can we pull up that chart, guys? We’ll pull up the chart and I’ll speak to it in a second. Yes.
Speaker 5: (48:41)
So we received a report that CVS had canceled the plan mass vaccination of a senior home this week, and we’ve gotten other sporadic reports of people who are registering through the DC site, but then hearing from the pharmacy that their appointments were canceled. Can you say what you know about pharmacies canceling appointments, including the CVS and Walgreens program?
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (49:01)
Yeah. So CVS and Walgreens are not affiliated with the portal, that is vaccinate.dc.gov. They are part of the Federal long-term care partnership. So they schedule, work directly with long-term care facilities, which would be nursing homes and assisted living residences. So any cancellations of clinics that happen there are a function of the scheduling between that nursing home and the CVS and Walgreens partnership. The DC Health and DC government are not involved in the scheduling of those clinics or any of those things.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (49:41)
Was that a DC facility?
Speaker 5: (49:44)
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (49:44)
Was that a DC facility you were referring to?
Speaker 5: (49:47)
Oh, the home?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (49:48)
Speaker 5: (49:48)
I’m not specifically sure.
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt: (49:50)
Right. So we don’t schedule for those.
Speaker 5: (49:54)
Okay. Thank you. And then the second question, Council Member Janeese Lewis George, and several other Council Members today wrote a letter to your office, Mayor Bowser, asserting that childcare workers should be included in next week’s vaccination rollout alongside teachers and Police Officers, because they’re among the most vulnerable city workers and alleging that childcare workers have been deprioritized. You said earlier at this news conference there’s just simply not enough vaccine to meet demand, but I want it to give you or Dr. Nesbitt the opportunity to respond directly to these members of the council or childcare workers who feel slighted.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (50:30)
I definitely already spoke about childcare workers and how they will continue to be in a priority group. You might also remember when we talked about groups, phases and tiers that they were always targets. We knew that they could happen earlier or they can happen later. And that continues to the case, given the fluidity of how much vaccine we receive.
Speaker 5: (50:59)
Thank you. And I got that clarification, it is a DC nursing home, Ingleside.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (51:03)
Okay. We’ll definitely check up with that, and I’ll ask the Department of Health to see what happened with CVS or Walgreens.
Speaker 5: (51:12)
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (51:13)
Speaker 6: (51:18)
I wanted to ask if you guys are working on any type of after action report in regards to the events on January 6th. And for Chief Contee, is there body camera footage that’s available from that day? If so, how much of it are you reviewing of that footage? And at any point, will you be releasing any of it?
Chief Contee: (51:42)
All of our officers are equipped with a body-worn camera footage, and I have reviewed some of it. We only release body-worn camera footage that in line with the Mayor’s order for our officer. So I’m sure that in terms of after action we’re certainly going to be working on one, MPD internally, but I’m sure that just across government, even at the Federal level with the congressional hearings that are to come, et cetera, that there’ll be several after action reports. I think the Congress, they have the services of General Honoré, I think that will be doing it at the Federal level. So sure, there’ll be several after action reports.
Speaker 6: (52:24)
Will you be doing the one for the MPD, or will you guys be having your own, I should say?
Chief Contee: (52:28)
Yeah, we’ll be doing one for MPD, but even at a greater level, I’m sure Director Rodriguez will be looking at just kind of total government, DC government, what are the areas that we responded to and where the improvements need to be, et cetera.
Speaker 6: (52:44)
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (52:46)
Okay. Thank you, everybody.