Jan 11, 2021
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Press Conference Transcript on Security After Attack on Capitol
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser held a news conference on January 11 with updates on D.C. security after attacks on the U.S. Capitol last week. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Mayor Muriel Bowser: (00:00)
Dr. Chris Rodriguez and Chief Contee. We will begin today with a public safety update and then provide updates on COVID-19 and finish with a very brief recovery update. Of course on January sixth, 2021, it will be remembered as a [inaudible 00:00:23] day in American history. And while we understand that there is an immediate threat to our democracy, we also know that there is imminent hope and we will get through this period. We also know that Trumpism won’t die on January 20, but our American values and our DC values are stronger than one extreme ideology. We will overcome this extremism together. I want to, once again, thank the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department and DC Fire & EMS. When the US Capitol Police called us for backup, MPD answered the call and performed heroically. They were called a lot of names in 2020, but today our city rightfully calls them heroes.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (01:14)
I want to also thank our neighbors in Maryland and Virginia for the support of their guard and law enforcement on January sixth, both jurisdictions provided support at the state level, as well as the county level for law enforcement mutual aid request. We know many of them with MPD and the US Capitol Police helped clear the Capitol building and we know that other states answered the call as well. And we’re grateful to them. Now, of course, we are all focused on preparing for the upcoming presidential inauguration. Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on January the sixth. Over the weekend, we continued our planning. I sent a letter yesterday requesting that the president declare a pre-emergency disaster for the District of Columbia. DC requested and was granted this designation in 2009 to support the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (02:34)
This is necessary because the inauguration poses several unprecedented challenges that exceed the scope of our traditional planning processes, the COVID-19 pandemic, and of course the domestic terror attack on the United States Capitol. On Sunday I also sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary Chad Wolf regarding inauguration preparation. The District of Columbia is requesting the department extend the national special security event period from Monday, January 11th to Sunday, January the 24th. I am also urging the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate with the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the United States Supreme Court to establish a security and federal force deployment plan for all federal property, which will ensure that the Metropolitan Police Department’s ability to focus on it’s local mission in all eight wards remains possible. In addition, I asked the attorney general at the Department of Justice to direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide an intelligent and threat debriefing on a daily basis during the period of the NSSE.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (03:59)
Further, I am requesting the Secretary of the Department of the Interior cancel any and all public gathering permits in the District of Columbia and deny any applications for public gathering during the period January 11 through January 24. In addition to heeding our call only to participate in an inauguration events virtually, I am also asking DC residents to sign up for special inauguration day alerts. You see the text information there, text INAUG2021 to 888-777 for updates on public safety, street closures, weather alerts, transit updates, and more. Let me now turn to COVID 19 and the District’s recovery efforts. We posted and we have posted throughout our response. And certainly even in these tumultuous days, our experience with COVID, we remain concerned as the rest of the country remains concerned about increase in cases.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (05:15)
And we can show you our seven day experience and the level of community spread as well as our hospital system capacity, the public health system capacity, and level of community engagement. We continue to ask our residents to be vigilant about their COVID prevention routines, wearing their mask, physical six foot distance, limiting your activities, and getting tested if you need a test, if you’ve been exposed. Our testing sites remain open and have remained open for DC residents and workers to get tested if they need a test. This morning, switching to the more optimistic and hopeful part of the presentation. We know the vaccine is safe and effective and available in the District of Columbia. Our Department of Health has worked through our phasing criteria for the vaccine. And today we move into yet another phase of vaccine eligibility. So far, 26,672 doses have been administered in DC.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (06:35)
We have received 45,425 doses. Additional doses will become available this week, totaling 8,300 additional doses. And beginning today, DC residents 65 years old and older can make an appointment to get the COVID vaccine through vaccinate.dc.gov portal. Again, that website is vaccinate.dc.gov. Seniors may also call the Coronavirus call center. That phone number is (855) 363-0333. Once again, if you’re 65 years or older and a DC resident, you may call ( 855) 363-0333 to schedule an appointment. If you have reached out to us via this website before to sign up for information, that was not registering or getting an appointment for the COVID vaccine, you still need to register and you may do so today by going to vaccinate.dc.gov, (855) 363-0333. So beginning today, seniors may call for the vaccination appointment. Residents can schedule through the call center Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM and on Saturdays, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Additionally, calling 311, our operators at 311 will be able to connect you.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (08:24)
Let me tell you how to get prepared for their call. Very simple, it should take only five minutes on the phone. You will be asked for demographic information, your race, gender, age, your medical history, COVID-19 history, contact information, and insurance information if you have it. Once you receive it, you will get a confirmation code that you should take with you along with your photo ID to your appointment. That confirmation code is your own. Then once you get the appointment, just remember to bring the confirmation code, a photo ID, and your insurance card. You should wear a loose fitting shirt that allows the medical staff to get to your upper arm. After you’ve received your vaccination, be prepared to stay for 15 to 30 minutes for observation.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (09:20)
You will receive a vaccination card, a printout that tells you which COVID vaccine you received, the date you received it, where you received it, and when you should return for your second shot. The COVID vaccine is free. Those with insurance will not be charged a copay. Those without insurance will not be charged or turned away. So at this point, I think I’m going to ask Dr. Nesbitt to talk about what seniors should expect after the vaccine.
Dr. Nesbitt: (09:59)
So we already know that the COVID 19 vaccine may cause side effects in some people such as pain at the injection site, sore muscles, fatigue, or a mild fever. These reactions simply mean that the vaccine is working. For most people, such as myself, these side effects will last no longer than a day or two. While at your appointment, you will be given information as to how to register with a tool called VSafe. This tool allows you to communicate with the centers for disease control and prevention about your experience. I have found the VSafe tool to be quite helpful, it checks in with you every day during the first week of your first dose of the vaccine, and then weekly after that, it will prompt you to remind you that your second dose is due, if you have not made that appointment for your second dose, which many of our providers are scheduling as you leave. Once you get your set first dose, it will remind you to schedule that appointment.
Dr. Nesbitt: (11:05)
Once you have received your second dose, you go back into the VSafe system, and it starts checking on you every day again, and then will switch to weekly thereafter. And the VSafe system will check in for you throughout a 12 month period of time. You want to introduce? So now we have a few seniors in our community who have already been vaccinated. We have quite a few people in our community who wanted to share with you their vaccination experience and encourage you to get vaccinated. So this morning, we’re going to share with you a message from our very own DC Council chairman, Phil Mendelson, and at-large council member, Anita Bonds, on why they want our seniors to join them in getting vaccinated.
Hi, I’m Phil Mendelson. I’m Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia. And I got vaccinated today. I just got vaccinated because it’s the right thing to do, because it will help to protect my health and because all of us need to get vaccinated. And I hope that my example will make others feel more comfortable if they have any uneasiness about getting vaccinated. So to get your vaccine, you can go to a website, vaccinate.dc.com, or you can call (855) 363-0333. That’s it?
I’m at-large council member, Anita Bonds, and I just received the vaccine. And of course, I am encouraging you to be sure to get the vaccine as well. We want to keep ourselves as healthy as possible, and this is one main way to keep us from the Coronavirus. Go to vaccinate. DC.gov, or you can call (855) 363-0333.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (13:46)
So I want to thank Phil and Anita for making those videos and helping to disseminate them broadly. We, as you heard them say, that vaccination is the key to helping us unite with family and friends and getting our lives back. And I know that there are many seniors and what we should all know is that we have seniors who are going to jobs, essential jobs, we have seniors who are helping to take care of other loved ones, we have seniors who want to see their grandkids, we have seniors who are living in congregate care facilities. So our senior social influencers fall into all of those categories. So we also want everybody to think about the seniors in their lives. Talk to them about the vaccine, help them make an appointment if you need to by using the website or calling, and also helping to arrange for them to have the vaccine. With that now, I’m going to ask Dr. Nesbitt to share…
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (15:03)
I’m going to ask Dr. Nesbitt to share a little bit more about the tiers for the vaccine and what’s next.
Dr. Nesbitt: (15:11)
Thank you, Madam Mayor. So the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a three-phase approach to vaccination that assumes that during phase one, supply is constrained, and as such, the CDC recommends that vaccine should be administered in closed settings best suited for reaching initial critical populations. This is why you will only see a limited number of options across the city overall to receive your vaccine. Phase two assumes that there is likely sufficient supply to meet demand, thereby permitting an expansion beyond initial populations and the use of a broader provider network. During phase three, we shift to open access to vaccination, because supply will, at that time, be sufficient, and vaccine will likely be available then through private provider sites.
Dr. Nesbitt: (16:08)
Furthermore, it is very important to note that with the two COVID-19 vaccines that have currently been approved for use in the US, the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, they have highly complex storage, packaging, and use requirements that limit their ability to be used in small clinical environments, such as private practices, as well as for their ability to be used in pop-up clinics in certain community or residential settings. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not optimally used in any clinical environment where less than 100 people could be vaccinated in a given day.
Dr. Nesbitt: (16:53)
Because of that, the district is showing you our phased approach that also includes tiers within each phase. These phases will allow for us to have a very progressive approach to rolling out each phase. These priority groups will give us the ability to show you our detailed system that will allow individuals with chronic medical conditions and essential employees in various settings to better understand where they fall in order of priority in the district’s phase system. It also gives us the opportunity to show you or clarify for you the construct of how prioritizing or using criteria that shows how either reducing the risk of severe illness and death, or allowing for the preservation of societal functions, helps us to establish individuals’ place in a particular phase or tier within a phase.
Dr. Nesbitt: (17:58)
While the district is still unable to definitively state when each group will be able to access vaccines, due to the fact that we do not control how much vaccine we receive from the federal government, or how quickly individuals take up the vaccine in each group, the established tiers will allow for us to provide more clarity to the population. While we will not wait until 100% of a group is vaccinated within each phase or within each tier before we move on to the next tier, we will use information that we understand about our population’s interest in taking the vaccine, and indicators such as the slowing of uptake of a vaccine, to indicate that it is time to move to a next tier.
Dr. Nesbitt: (18:48)
So here, I think everyone is very clear on phase 1A, where we have begun with vaccinating of long-term care residents, because they are at the highest risk of severe illness and death if they acquire the vaccine. We have demonstrated that in our data, and then the preservation of societal functions. Our healthcare system needs to be able to operate, because they are the ones who care for us if we are diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as our first responders, who have been on the front lines of this COVID-19 pandemic since the very beginning, and our frontline public health workers who help to operate our testing centers, who help to do our home visits for contact tracing, were the first individuals to be vaccinated beginning December 14.
Dr. Nesbitt: (19:40)
Phase 1B, we are implementing components of phase 1B tier one today, primarily on the prevention of morbidity and mortality side, with our DC residents aged 65 years and older beginning access to vaccinations today, as well as a rollout of some of our congregate settings of vaccination. The preservation of societal function or essential employees group will begin access to vaccination next. Tier two in phase 1B will include additional essential employees, such as our law enforcement, staff in K through 12 educational facilities, so this includes all staff who work in these environments, staff in childcare facilities, and staff working in grocery stores in the District of Columbia. And then tier three in phase 1B includes additional staff working in our courts and legal systems, staff who work in health, human services, and social services agencies outreach programs, and our frontline employees of our public mass transit agencies, individuals employed in manufacturing, individuals working in food packaging and distribution, and the employees of our US Postal Service.
Dr. Nesbitt: (20:59)
Phase 1C, the first tier adds our DC residents who have chronic medical conditions. Based on the current rate at which we are receiving vaccines, we do not believe we will have to break this group out into those individuals who have chronic health conditions who have a known link to a adverse outcome from COVID-19, versus those that are not yet identified, because we are still learning more about COVID-19. And then the preservation of societal functioning or essential employees groups are essential employees in our district government agencies, essential employees of public utilities, essential employees in non-governmental health, human, and social services organizations, agencies. These are the ones who don’t do direct outreach. They have less interaction necessarily with the public in their homes, in the streets, or out in the communities, where their workspaces maybe could be modified more readily, and the individuals working in commercial and residential property maintenance and environmental services.
Dr. Nesbitt: (22:13)
Tier two, we add more essential employees. So individuals working in non-public transit or mass transportation services. So for-hire vehicles and ride share individuals who are working in logistics, delivery, and courier services, and individuals working in media and mass communications. Again, these are essential employees who are required to report in person or on duty in person throughout the public health emergency.
Dr. Nesbitt: (22:43)
And then tier three of phase 1C are all essential employees of institutions of higher education, individuals working in construction, essential employees working in information technology, the remainder of the 9,419 federal government agencies that have been identified by those agencies, and then individuals working in commercial and residential property management that have not been previously identified in either phase 1B and 1C criteria.
Dr. Nesbitt: (23:15)
Phase two expands to include the remainder of DC residents aged 16 years and older, not included in previous phases. We encourage residents to be vaccinated as soon as their first eligibility criteria is named, and once your phase has been announced, you remain eligible as we move through additional phases. So we began phase 1B today. Healthcare workers remain eligible, but they will continue to have to now find appointments in combination with all of the enthusiastic seniors who are now accessing appointments as well. And the amount of vaccine that we are receiving on a weekly basis for first doses has not changed substantially, so it’s to your advantage to get an appointment as soon as your phase is announced so that you have fewer people in subsequent phases to, for lack of a better word, compete for, for a vaccine.
Dr. Nesbitt: (24:27)
If you are higher priority because of risk to your own personal health because of risk of severe illness or death, or because you play a critical role as essential employees, we encourage you to be vaccinated as soon as possible. And we know that there are some people who are saying, “I’m going to wait and see.” There have been millions of people now vaccinated, so the notion of needing to continue to wait and see, we hope that you now have confidence in the vaccine. So thank you, Madam Mayor.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (24:58)
Thank you, Dr. Nesbitt. And finally, I have one recovery update, and I want people to pay close attention to this. We know our entertainment businesses have been substantially affected by COVID, and we want them to know that the Bridge Fund applications to support your business are now available. So please go to coronavirus.dc.gov/ bridgefund, so if you support entertainment and hospitality in the district, and have a audio-visual business, event equipment rental, photographer, event planners, trade show event staffing services, event production companies, talent and booking agencies, tour companies, performing arts companies, event promoters, recreational sports leagues, these are some of the types of businesses related to entertainment and hospitality that can be supported by the Bridge Fund. Tomorrow, Deputy Mayor Falcicchio will be joined by Rebecca Lender, who is a member of the DC Event Coalition, to talk about the impact on those types of businesses and The Bridge Fund.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (26:18)
Okay. With that, we can take a few questions.
[inaudible 00:26:21] with CNN. Given that Capitol Police Chief Sund said that he pled with the Pentagon for extra help from the National Guard as the Capitol was being stormed, do you think that’s an accurate categorization of that? And what should have been done differently as all of this was going down? What was the failure, now that we know more after what happened on the sixth?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (26:45)
Well, I think that we will continue to learn more, and that there will be comprehensive looks at what happened, or what should have happened. And we are very much looking forward to those investigations happening.
Given that Sund said that the Pentagon thought that the optics would be bad if the National Guard was in front of the Capitol, what goes through your head when you hear that?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (27:15)
Well, for our part, we saw the Capitol being stormed, and we thought all extraordinary help to the United States Capitol Police was warranted.
What needs to be different given that there’s already chatter of more events like this on the 17th, also around the inauguration? What needs to change in order to make sure that something like this does not happen again? Is it more federal help?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (27:43)
Well, I spent the first part of my remarks talking about some very specific changes that we’ve recommended to the federal government, the first being directed at the Department of Homeland Security, and that letter outlines very specific suggestions. First, we think that the National Special Security Event time period and security perimeter needs to be expanded. We think further that discussions among the branches of government and all federal law enforcement needs to focus on federal properties. Those are a couple of very specific things that we’ve asked.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (28:27)
We further have asked the Secretary of the Interior, who as you know is responsible for the National Park Service, that is responsible for most of the National Mall and properties in the downtown area that are federal, that they not grant any public gathering permits and rescind the ones that they have already granted.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (28:49)
Mayor Bowser, in regards to the call that Pete’s asking you about, the Washington Post is quoting that all three of you before us were on that call. Can you please describe the contents of that call and the way that the United States Capitol Police Chief asked for help? And also, I have some followup questions.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (29:09)
Stephanie, I won’t get into talking about the details of that call. I know there’s been a lot of reporting on it. We stand behind the comments that have been attributed to our administration.
In the followup question, there’s also reporting that days before, that the US Capitol Police Chief had personally reached out to Chief Contee. Chief Contee, can we ask you, can you please confirm that that conversation was had? And was there any inkling of concern or suggestion or concern that United States Capitol Police were not getting the assistance they needed for this event, to cover this event beforehand?
Chief Contee: (29:45)
Yeah. As the Mayor stated, we stand by what was in the article. Chief Sund did reach out, but it was just for MPD. Were we available to respond in the event that things got bad at the Capitol?
And may I ask if-
Robert Contee: (30:02)
… at the Capitol.
And may I ask, I was not present at the previous news conferences following what happened at the Capitol, but I did watch, and there were multiple news conferences where the Secretary of Army was also here. Why are we only learning of these details now after this reporting?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (30:17)
I’m not sure if I follow what you mean, Stephanie, but I’m sure, through a comprehensive examination, that we’ll learn even more.
But you all were a part of that call. And today there’s reporting that there’s significant concern with that call, that there was requests made by the U.S. Capitol police for assistance, and it appears, according to this reporting, that it was not made or granted due to concerns of optics. Why are we only learning about this now, so many days after?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (30:48)
I actually don’t think we’re only learning about it now. That’s been discussed since the day of event.
But the details of this call. And also, to follow up separately, in regards to the inauguration.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (31:00)
If you are going as far as to request that these permits for gatherings be denied or canceled, why not request that the inauguration’s public events just be canceled, period? If that transition of power is still going to happen.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (31:14)
I think that that is … the transition of power happens when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in. That event, in my view, should be public. Yes.
Speaker 2: (31:32)
Chief Contee, Chief Contee, I’ve talked to some people and I’ve monitored social media, and they’ve made it very, very clear that if any pro-Trump people happen to come east of the river, there might be a little bit of trouble. Could you talk about that in the context of people in the neighborhoods trying to protect themselves from these pro-Trump demonstrators?
Robert Contee: (32:03)
I did a Facebook Live, I guess, a couple of days ago with one of the council members, just kind of discussing some of the concerns that were relayed to us from the community. We had no incidents where police had to make arrests, there were some complaints about people riding through neighborhoods, but nothing more significant than that at this time. Obviously, we’re very concerned about our communities, we had MPD members, still while dealing with these issues at the Capitol, we still had MPD members available to respond to emergencies in our neighborhood. I’m just glad we didn’t have any serious emergencies in our neighborhood.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (32:45)
Speaker 3: (32:47)
We’ve covered previous demonstrations in the past where there have been D.C. police escorts with those demonstrations that are moving. Is that any plan for that if we see people gathering and marching for the inauguration or any time around that?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (33:03)
When you say escorts, what do you mean?
Speaker 3: (33:07)
A head leading a group, ensuring that there’s peaceful demonstrations in the city. We’ve seen that before.
Robert Contee: (33:16)
Well, that’s kind of a game-day determination, depending on the group, depending on what’s going on. We make those assessments and we see whether or not that type of support is needed. Sometimes those supports are in place to prevent any traffic issues or anything like that to kind of move crowds along. Certainly that would not be proper in the incident where we are dealing with violent rioters, anything like that. That would not be proper in that case.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (33:48)
Thank you. Yes, Sam.
Yes, Mayor. You all have used the term medical emergencies for these three people who died. I’m reading stuff that they were trampled to death. Can you give us any information on that?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (34:00)
I don’t think I can confirm any specific about causes of death now. As soon as we have that available, we’ll make it available. Yes.
One for Chief Contee, quickly: you described vividly one of your officers being beaten and tased during the attack. Can you update us on his condition, or her condition? I can’t even remember if it was a man or a woman.
Robert Contee: (34:27)
Yeah, it’s a male officer. I got a chance to greet him just as he was discharged from the hospital. He is doing better, obviously very shaken, very appalled, very angry. But he is doing better, and he is healing. He’s off work right now, but he is healing and getting better.
Were the rioters trying to take his weapon from him and use it against him?
Robert Contee: (34:55)
We believe that they were, that there were several items of property, MPD property, district government property that was stolen from him. Thankfully, his weapon was not taken from him.
Could I follow up on some COVID questions?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (35:12)
We released the numbers of vaccines that are coming in; do they include the second round as well, or are those just first round numbers that you’re giving us?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (35:22)
We have been reporting first doses, the vaccine that is coming in for first doses.
And then previously at a press conference, you gave us some general dates, including January 11th for 65 and over, and then January 25th and then February 2nd. Can you tell us where these tiers fall into those dates? I know you said you’re not in control of the allotments, but are those still the target dates? And when do those dates kind of match up with these tiers?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (35:49)
So, Mark, interestingly, we will not be able to give you a hard, fast when any one tier will be able to go online. For insight, what we have been doing is trying to follow when there is slow uptake in a particular tier; if the prior week we were seeing that 60 or 70% of healthcare workers in a particular institution were getting vaccinated and that started to drop, it suggests that interest in that particular priority group is starting to wane and we should move into the next group.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (36:31)
So that’s the same sort of construct we will be using moving forward. For example, about 5,000 of the 44,000 or so doses that you see there are locked up in a long-term care partnership. So even though you see that number and you’re assuming those are 5,000 doses we could just move somewhere, we can’t. I don’t even have control of that vaccine. And I still have to allocate more vaccine into that partnership if CVS and Walgreens say that they need more. Even though they’re not reporting to me that they’ve used that vaccine, I know that they haven’t used that vaccine.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (37:11)
And the vaccine we do have, we have control over it and we can move it around. We know what’s been allocated to an appointment out in our community sites because we require them to report, et cetera. So we’re following very closely how much vaccine is being used, how much vaccine is being allocated to a person who has a scheduled appointment. We’re very optimistic that, of the 4,000 or so appointments that’ll be made available in the community for seniors, those appointments will be scheduled very quickly this week. Seniors were up and on the web this morning before 8:00 AM, scheduling appointments. We believe uptake is going to be high over the next week or two for individuals who are over the age 65, and that group is not insignificant.
And Mayor Bowser, can I ask you: on Friday, your current restrictions on indoor dining. What is the plan for Friday? Will you allow restaurants to resume indoor dining on Friday, or are there plans to extend that?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (38:17)
Mark, it is likely that we will extend to coincide with the public safety emergency. We would announce that probably tomorrow, if that’s the decision.
Can you remind me of the date on that? Is that the public safety-
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (38:35)
It goes beyond the inauguration.
Speaker 4: (38:40)
Yes. The public safety emergency in the inaugural period, we’re being requested to extend to January 24th.
So is the reason for extending the closures of restaurants, of indoor dining, because of COVID and/or because of concerns about just wanting to keep people out of the city because of possible more riots?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (39:06)
It’s going to be linked to the public safety emergency, so the latter. The latter.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (39:14)
Yes, okay. Yes, Julie.
Dr. Nesbitt, you were just talking about how eager seniors are to sign up for vaccine appointments, and I wanted to ask about your plans to handle the crowds, both online … is the website going to be able to handle all the people who want to sign up? In person, do we have concerns about people crowding into grocery stores right now?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (39:33)
We don’t. As you know, we have an appointment structure, we have a phone line to be able to assist seniors in handling appointments. We have decided to go with an appointment system; I know some other states have suggested that they’re using appointment systems for large venues. We are using an appointment system that schedules people to be able to go to community locations that are throughout the city, and I’ve explained also, hopefully to a level of satisfaction, why, with the storage requirements of these vaccines, you do have limitations. But we have what we call lower throughput, which is as few as 100 people a day, and higher throughput, as many as 800 to 1,000 people a day sites. You really are not able to move people with the requirements of this vaccine in an environment that’s lower than 100 people per day without creating the opportunity for waste of the vaccine, which is something we can ill afford to do.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (40:39)
But when you have really large high throughput sites, thousands of people a day, you create an environment where people are potentially standing on queue, they could become operationally inefficient. And it create the opportunity for people who don’t have appointments to come and then be disappointed when they are not served after waiting for hours. We do not want to create that environment here in the district. One, even if we tell people only come when you have an appointment, they’ll come anyway and the optics will be terrible, because I know they’ll meet Julie and Julie will write about it and say that people waiting for hours even though we tell them the schedule an appointment. There’s eventually going to be enough vaccine for everyone.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (41:25)
So we really want people to call in, we can handle the call volume, the website can handle the appointment scheduling. We also have, some of our large healthcare systems are already beginning to bring, because they can do some of these medium throughput clinics, are beginning to reach out to some of their seniors to tell them how they’ll be able to accommodate them. Kaiser began this week, G.W. Medical Faculty Associates will begin later this week, early next week, and the others will hopefully come online by the end of the month. So they all won’t be reliant on the VaccinateDC.gov system.
And did you say that there are 4,000 appointments available right now?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (42:11)
Yes, there’ll be around 4,000 or so doses in the community settings. One way to think about it is to say for seniors, but you also have to remember that the 1A group is still eligible. So we had some healthcare workers who were in the I’m going to wait and see group, so some of them may still be calling and scheduling appointments now that their colleagues have gotten their second dose and their level of confidence is higher in the vaccine. These 4,000 or so doses that are out there in the community settings are available for anyone in phase 1A and 1B.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (42:51)
And we also still have vaccine that’s available for dose 1A in the hospitals for them to take care of their healthcare workers, too.
Is there a timeframe on this 4,000? Like, there are 4,000 appointments this week or next week? [crosstalk 00:43:03] 4,000 this week.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (43:03)
That’s for the doses that came in this week.
Okay, and will you announce when those appointments have all been filled so people don’t try to sign up?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (43:11)
No, we won’t, because those are the appointments that have been released for this Tuesday through Sunday. When we get our allocation of vaccine for next week, we’ll start releasing appointments for next week, which may be some time mid-week.
Got it. Thank you. Can I ask one more question on this?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (43:26)
It seems that you said initially that there were about 80, 000 healthcare workers in the phase 1A group. Right now, we have 26,000 vaccines that have been given out, and we’re moving on to seniors, to the next group. Are you concerned that this means that a majority of the city’s healthcare workers have not expressed interest in getting the vaccine right away?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (43:47)
Well, some of them may have been vaccinated as Montgomery County and Northern Virginia began hosting some of their clinics, they may have found a way to be vaccinated in their home state, which would of course be great because we never got 85,000 doses of vaccine here, right? So that would be great, if they were vaccinated in their home state as well, because 75% of that 85,000 were not D.C. residents.
Speaker 5: (44:17)
[inaudible 00:44:17] just a couple quick follow-ups on the 6th. There’s this report of a memo that went out to D.C. council saying that there was concern that a successful insurrection would potentially seize control of MPD from the district. How big of a concern was that? How do you classify what the district knew prior leading up to the 6th?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (44:41)
I think you’re referring to a memo that I haven’t seen, that our attorney general sent to council members that talked about presidential power in the district. So I can’t say too much about it because I didn’t read it, but for people who don’t know how the district is set up, the president of the United States-
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (45:02)
The President of the United States, as laid out in our home rule charter, can in an emergency commandeer the Metropolitan Police Department. We experienced this threat from the President in January.
Speaker 6: (45:16)
When you think about-
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (45:18)
I mean June, sorry.
Speaker 6: (45:20)
When you think about, going forward, the idea that there would not be first amendment activity coming from the Department of Interior and denying those permits, DC and MPD is always dealing with protests in the district. What does that say? Does that just sort of speak to the level of concern or the level of preparation available?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (45:42)
It speaks to the level of concern. I’m born and raised in Washington DC, I’ve seen a lot of demonstrations. I’ve been in local government for the last 13 years. I’ve seen a lot of demonstrations. I’ve seen several inaugurations, one that had a million people or more for President Obama. In even the last one, we had a million women come here the day following President Trump’s inauguration. And people coming to demonstrate peacefully are very different than the people we saw storm the Capitol the other day. And I think that it will be shown that those people were organized, trained people who went into that building. So as laid out in our letter to the DHS Director, this inaugural planning period has to be very different than all the others because of those things.
Speaker 6: (46:35)
Are you scared?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (46:38)
Am I scared? If I’m scared of anything it’s for our democracy, because we have a very extreme factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.
Speaker 6: (46:48)
Chief Contee, can you just clarify a little bit more about what you said about the officer beaten? There’s so much video circulating online, was that… And not to be too vulgar here, but the officer beaten with the flagpole or the one crushed by the door, can you speak to any of those videos? Do any of those things correlate or lineup that you can help us sort of better tell the story?
Robert Contee: (47:11)
Yeah, I have 56 officers and counting that were injured in some way, shape, form, or fashion during that. Some obviously the more extreme videos that have been circulating on the internet. As I said before, our officers were in a fight, not just for their lives, but for the democracy of this country. And I believe, again, that MPD members performed valiantly, along with a lot of our local partners in the NCR, the other law enforcement agencies that were there with them. I have talked to officers who have done two tours in Iraq and said that this was scarier to them than their time in combat. So I think that really just speaks to the level of concern that we have as a city, as a government.
Robert Contee: (48:03)
If you look at the video where the officer was being crushed in the door, I had the opportunity to speak to him the other day. Again, these were people who were very determined to come into our Capitol building and really do some harm. And they did.
Speaker 6: (48:19)
It’s terrifying when you watch the video. What did that officer say to you?
Robert Contee: (48:23)
Yeah, it makes me sick to my stomach to see that video. And that officer, obviously he was afraid for his life.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (48:31)
Okay, last couple. So let’s start with James, Mark and Stephanie.
Dr. Nesbitt, during the insurrection, you probably heard this, House members were put in basically a small room, all of them together. And the Capitol physician has expressed concerns about COVID being around in terms of that room and others. What relationship does your department have with the Capitol physician in terms of let’s say an incident like that?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (49:09)
Well, the officer, the attending physician has their own responsibility for managing the outbreaks that happen or any exposures that happen on the Hill. However, we have been close partners and close allies in ensuring that there is no transmission or that anything that happens on the Hill does not have outflow out into the District of Columbia. I’m in constant communication with him. In fact, we spoke this morning. We touch base often.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (49:42)
Because what I have truly appreciated about his partnership is that he has been an ardent supporter of Mayor Bowser and the interventions that we put in place in the city and ensuring that the members of Congress understand what our policies are in the district in terms of mask mandates, in terms of what our testing infrastructure is for non-essential employees on the Hill or their family members so that people know what the resources are in the District of Columbia if they need to access them. And that we can always be aligned in our mission in terms of reducing risk and risk of transmission and ensuring that anyone who needs testing support that exceeds what their capacity is, has access to it in a meaningful way.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (50:35)
I’m wondering on the vaccination one, do you have a hundred percent of providers reporting now? When you were reporting doses given before you were only at 58% reporting.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (50:47)
Sure. It’s an excellent question, Mark. We have a hundred percent… We do not have a hundred percent of providers reporting because we are still not getting the data we need from those who are in the longterm care partnership. But I do want to make sure that I can just briefly give some clarity around the doses piece. I mentioned that we have doses that are allocated in the longterm care partnership that is moving much slower. And then also, a lot of our hospitals get their doses on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We tried to figure in the metric the best way that we could, that would help to make sense for people why you don’t have a hundred percent of doses administered every single day, right? Why there is that lag? Because so people think there’s just doses of vaccine sitting on a shelf and people want it.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (51:42)
But hospitals and healthcare providers get vaccine, people are making appointments, that vaccine is attached to an appointment. Because it hasn’t made it in someone’s arm yet doesn’t mean that it’s sitting on a shelf and people desperately want it. So I want to make sure that people have visibility into that. So we have about the 8,000 back doses of vaccine that came into the city last week, doesn’t often make it into the city until Wednesday. And then those healthcare providers are making appointments for people toward the end of the week, over the weekend, and they’re using it through the beginning of this week when their shipments start coming in today, tomorrow and Wednesday.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (52:21)
So there’s a little bit of leeway there. We probably found about 2,000 doses that wasn’t accounted for, where there was inefficiency, where we started moving it around from lower demand providers to higher demand providers over the past week.
So that leads me to another question about wastage. What can you tell us? Will you provide numbers on wastage like you are the vaccine numbers and what are you seeing as far as wastage?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (52:48)
So now that we have of the community providers reporting, we can start to get to some meaningful data on wastage, but I don’t have providers who are reporting to me wastage. So when I hear anecdotal things from reporters or a council member who sends me email, I beg them to have that provider send that data to me because I don’t have it. I don’t have any provider telling me that I’ve had to waste the vaccine. And that is required to be reported to us by their provider agreement.
So, that seems like-
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (53:19)
Is that an actual word? Is that a word?
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (53:21)
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (53:21)
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (53:22)
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (53:22)
That seems like a problem if they’re not properly reporting wastage.
LaQuandra Nesbitt: (53:26)
That is correct. That is correct. And they will not be allowed to participate in the program.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (53:33)
Okay, last question. Stephanie?
I just wanted to clarify, so the National Guard members, whether they’re DC or coming from other states, that they are still not armed?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (53:44)
Only the President can arm the National Guard. Let me be clear about that.
Okay. And then with regard to just Chief Contee, if you can, with going back to that conversation with Chief Sund before the event on the sixth, are you able to at all talk about obviously DC police were able to get there as soon as they could, what special preparations were made on DC police side to be able to respond that way? Obviously that’s important.
Robert Contee: (54:09)
We responded within minutes of the call from Capitol police for assistance. We deployed several CDU platoons along with a command official to the scene to aid the Capitol. So it was really literally within minutes.
But that was purposefully set that way because of the information that you all had?
Robert Contee: (54:31)
Well, we have platoons strategically staged throughout the city. So at the point, and not necessarily because of the call or because of a conversation, but we strategically deploy our people so that in the event we need to send them somewhere, that they will arrive within minutes. We knew obviously where the permanent demonstrations were for in the area so we strategized around that.
And then just lastly, I’m sorry, I understand that the emergency and your request was made for specific reasons, but can you all just detail what threats are known to the city at this time or what situations of concern?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (55:06)
Well, let me say this, Stephanie, we are as outlined in our briefing, our normal threat apparatus that is led by the Department of Homeland Security is engaged, but we also expect to have daily briefings with the FBI. And we’ll be able to say more and to evaluate those threats as we know them. But that’s all I can say now. Thank you everybody.
Robert Contee: (55:33)
Robert Contee: (55:33)