Mar 23, 2020
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Coronavirus Briefing: March 23
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser shared updates with the press on COVID-19 in the DC area. Read the full transcript of the briefing speech here.
Muriel Bowser: (00:00)
We love, of course, our cherry blossoms. The festival organizer several weeks ago already canceled all of the activities related to the cherry blossoms. The trees are indeed beautiful, we’ve been enjoying them for more than 100 years and we will enjoy them again next year. So stay at home. You will not be able to get access. You will not have restaurants or bars or restrooms. There will be no museums to stop in to take a break. So enjoy the cherry blossoms from what the blossom organizers and the National Park Service have put on the internet this year. I also want to thank all of our local businesses that continue to find new ways to help. Particularly I want to acknowledge and thank all of our restaurants and restaurant workers who have switched to delivery and carry out. Had the opportunity to stop in at a local business in Petworth just yesterday, and I was certainly buoyed by their sense of optimism, but also duty to continue to serve their neighborhood in these altered conditions.
Muriel Bowser: (01:18)
I also want to thank other businesses who have raised their hand to help like a local distillery, Republic Restoratives, who is helping us to produce a thousand gallons of hand sanitizers that we can make available to our frontline government workers and first responders. Still, we know we need more help from the federal government in order to have a more test available. We need more swabs, personal protective equipment, and ventilators. The White House must ensure that the nation’s Capitol, actually anywhere in our great nation, that we have the ability to do testing or provide life saving care. And that we can do all the logistics and planning, but we need a centralized procurement and distribution of these lifesaving supplies. We also continue to call on the Congress to get to work, to continue to look at relief that is not only focused on the right now, but the longterm recovery of our nation. We know that our hospitals and medical providers need an infusion of cash in order to keep going.
Muriel Bowser: (02:38)
We also know that our workers need relief right now, so getting cash in the hands of Americans is what is required. We also know that we will have to turn back on our economies very soon, and how people get back to work at industry gets back its feet is going to be important to our longterm recovery. I just want to reiterate the importance of staying at home. Everything’s closed, and so we want people to stay close to home. We have also increased our monitoring and enforcement of our public parks. As I indicated on Friday we have locked and closed all of the parks and recreation facilities that have locks, and we continue to see people doing group exercise, basketball, soccer and the like. We will continue to ask our enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for this type of activity and to disperse. It is critically important that we work together to blunt the curve so that our very precious medical facilities can be used for those who are most in need.
Muriel Bowser: (03:59)
So with that, I’m going to ask members of my team to provide updates. You’ll hear from Director Chris Rodriguez, who is the HSEMA director, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, who leads DC Health. And then we will be available to take any of your questions.
Thank you, Mayor Bowser. I’m Chris Rodriguez, director of the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and I wanted to touch on some of our planning and preparations for what the mayor talked about in terms of medical surge. And in many respects we’ve been doing this for the last several weeks, but we do have some updates. In terms of, as the mayor mentioned, we have seen an increase in cases in the district. Last week at this time we were at about 17 cases, we’re now at 116 so as we prepare, as the mayor said, for an increase in cases, we’re looking at medical surge along really four key lines of effort. The first, which has already been completed by Dr. Nesbitt and her team at DC Health, is to work with hospitals to begin to shed load by discharging non-acute patients and canceling elective surgeries. And as I mentioned, Dr. Nesbitt and her team had been very proactive in reaching out to our hospitals to make sure that we are decreasing the number of patients in hospitals to prepare for medical surge. The second line of effort is expanding space in existing hospitals using a combination of regulatory waivers and using traditionally unlicensed spaces like hallways. And DC Health, again under the leadership of Dr. Nesbitt, is making progress in doing that throughout our hospital system. The third line of effort is reconfiguring existing facilities, whether it be furloughed nursing homes or unused hotels, to again prepare for medical surge. And at this time we along with DC Health and other district agencies are scouting locations and facilities to prepare for surge. And the fourth line of effort, which really hinges on our federal support as the mayor mentioned, is to look at opening larger facilities if need be. And we have been working with FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is in our EOC, to begin looking at planning and logistics support that the district might need if we were to open a large facility.
Just want to reiterate what the mayor had said before turning over to Dr. Nesbitt, which is a to be a good neighbor and to stay at home if you don’t need to be outside, and that’s consistent with our efforts to flatten the curve. So thank you, and with that I’ll turn it over to Dr. Nesbitt from DC Health.
Dr. Nesbitt: (07:01)
Thank you Director Rodriguez. Today we want to be able to share, as the mayor has done, and reiterate our condolences for the passing of the second district resident on Saturday evening on March 21st. The patient was a 65 year old female who was admitted to a local hospital with fever, cough, and underlying health conditions several days prior to their passing. They were previously tested prior to the 21st and their test results were known to the DC Department of Health and have previously been reported out as a positive case. As you all know, the district since our first reported positive case of Covid-19 in the district, we’ve had 116 residents test positive. I’d also like to report, however, that we’ve had 17 residents who have been cleared and from isolation and are considered recovered from Covid-19 in the District of Columbia. These are uncertain times and our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 here in the District of Columbia, in our nation and across the globe, and with those who have been impacted and are recovering.
Dr. Nesbitt: (08:20)
And we know that we will experience more cases and we want everyone to stay home so that more of our cases will recover and that the number of individuals who will be impacted will be blunted in the District of Columbia. In order for an individual to recover, they must have three days without respiratory symptoms as well as no fever without the use of fever, reducing medications, and they must also have seven days pass since the initial onset of those symptoms. And that’s how we determine if individuals recover. We also want people to be reminded, however, that as individuals recover, it is still critically important that they practice the same social distancing measures that we’re asking everyone to practice in our community at this time. So being removed from isolation still requires that individual practice those great social distancing practices, as well as continuing to cover your cough, being able to have good hand washing practices, and all the things that we know will to continue to keep us safe as a community.
Dr. Nesbitt: (09:36)
I’d also like to take this opportunity to underscore another important item that Mayor Bowser mentioned, and an asset that links very closely with the items that Director Rodriguez mentioned, which is our Medical Reserve Corps. The DC Medical Reserve Corps is designed to support public health and medical emergency preparedness response and recovery. and it’s a tool that we have that recruits, trains, and deploys medical and medical volunteers to assist with planned events and emergencies such as the one that we are experiencing now. The DC Medical Reserve Corps is open to medical and nonmedical volunteers over the age of 18. And it’s whether you are retired, active in your profession, a community member or a student, we need your assistance in the DC Medical Reserve Corps.
Dr. Nesbitt: (10:27)
All volunteers receive free training and a chance to work with the government and non-government agencies and the opportunity to support their community during emergencies and public health events. I do want to underscore that only properly licensed, credentialed, and trained health professionals participate in clinical related activities during these public health emergencies and all other volunteers who are nonclinical participate in activities such as logistics, data management, and community outreach and engagement related to the-
Dr. Nesbitt: (11:03)
And community outreach and engagement related to the public health activities.
Dr. Nesbitt: (11:06)
We have received over 1600 individuals applications for the Medical Reserve Corps since its activation and we hope to have more people who are interested and have been seeking volunteer activities and ways to be engaged with the district’s COVID-19 response. And if you want to have more information you can visit Coronavirus@dc. gov or DChealth.dc.gov/mrc for more information and to complete an online application.
Dr. Nesbitt: (11:38)
So we look forward to your continued support and working with us collectively under Mayor Bowser’s leadership to have a successful response to COVID-19 here at the District of Columbia. Thank you.
Muriel Bowser: (11:54)
Thank you. And I would like to note that we are also joined by Dr. Jennifer Smith from the district’s public health lab and our crime lab as well and Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue. We can take questions.
Muriel Bowser: (12:12)
Speaker 1: (12:13)
With all your encouragement to stay at home and the emphasis on that. Why not order a stay in place or shelter in place directive?
Muriel Bowser: (12:22)
What we know is that we have basically closed down the district. So the gathering places where DC residents can go have been shut down. We want to make clear that we want people to go out for essential activity but they are going out to grocers and to procure the things that they need and going out and should go out in their immediate area with their immediate family if they’re social distancing. So that’s where the district is. We will, however, continuously review any businesses that we think don’t adhere to those practices and issue additional guidance.
Muriel Bowser: (13:11)
Mayor, at least beginning when the weekend began, I was hearing from people from District Protective Services that they didn’t have personal protective equipment from the city and similar complaints from the DC Department Of Corrections with the correctional officers saying that the only things they had were I guess some gloves. They have only gloves and a mouth mask. What about the protective equipment for city employees who have to, let’s say work in these areas?
Muriel Bowser: (13:48)
Well, Sam, what city employees that we’re focused on, not just DC government employees, but the first responders and medical staff. And what we know and according all of the guidance that we’ve received is that the folks who need that equipment are providing medical care. And that is how we are triaging the distribution of that equipment.
Can we get some ideas to what the situation is at the jail? I’ve heard different numbers, 65, 50 but people are quarantined at the jail. What’s the situation over there?
Muriel Bowser: (14:24)
Sure. Let me ask Kevin to provide an update.
Kevin Donahue: (14:29)
There was a US Marshall at the superior court who tested positive for COVID-19. Based on the very preliminary assessment of who was in the same room as that individual, 65 inmates at the DCGL were quarantined, which really means sent to a separate cell block, each given their own room. When that contact tracing was completed, it turned out that the 65 went down to I believe just a handful of individuals who in fact had any kind of interaction with that individual. So the number at one point was 65. When we learn more information about who that Marshall came into contact with, it went down to a handful of individuals.
So what’s a handful? 10 or less?
Kevin Donahue: (15:12)
I can get that answer, but I believe it’s less than five.
That’s the five people are still in isolation?
Kevin Donahue: (15:17)
I don’t know if they’re still in isolation at this point. As we learn more about that person’s interaction, it turned out that individual for the US Marshalls had less and less confirmed interactions with any inmates at the DC jail.
So an issue the other week when we were with the police was about the number of people that are locked up. Has that decreased at all or can you give us any information on that?
Kevin Donahue: (15:40)
We work closely with the judges at superior court and the US Attorney’s office as well as the CGCC, which includes the public defender service. A number of steps have been taken on the front end to reduce the intake coming into the DC jail. So NPD has discretion. It has had discretion to issue citations in lieu of arrest. In other words, some will has to come to court and they have to schedule that court date versus getting arrested right then and there. And the chief has directed officers to make robust use of that discretion.
Kevin Donahue: (16:09)
Second, the US Attorney’s office makes decisions about who to prosecute based on who’s arrested. They have agreed to make those decisions much earlier in the process. So prior to anyone going to central cell block, the US Attorney’s indicating who they’re going to no paper, or not prosecute. And that has reduced the inflow into the central cell block by 40%, so a significant number. There are still crimes that individuals will get arrested for. Violent crimes, domestic violence accusations. And the judges at superior court are now, when they make arraignment decisions, which I believe will start to do remotely, they will factor in the fact that we have a pandemic in determining who should be held pretrial. So there is a lot of work happening. And as the science sort of directs all parties, we’ll continue to look for adjustments that make sense.
Speaker 2: (17:07)
You took the step yesterday and today of closing down the area around the tidal basin because of crowding. Are you at all concerned that the next day that’s nice, there’s going to nicer days later this week, that you’re not going to have the same problem at other facilities across the district? Both on the federal side, could be the arboretum, could be Meridian Health Park, but also local DC parks. And then second question, what powers, if any, do police have to actually disperse crowds? Can they write tickets? Can they take any sort of more aggressive enforcement action if they see big crowds of people?
Muriel Bowser: (17:41)
We’re going to direct, not just the police and the national guard, but our park rangers and other DC personnel that we still have to help move along crowds if we encounter crowds. The crowds can be people playing. I saw a pickup, it looked to be a pickup soccer game on a school field for example. So we think there are a lot of different opportunities for people not to follow directions here but we are going to ask our teams to move along people who are not practicing social distancing.
Speaker 2: (18:24)
Just a question about the fact that there’s to be more nice spring days to come. How do you actually stop people from going out and congregating and doing what they did at the tidal basin if you’re not imposing stricter measures like a shelter in place?
Muriel Bowser: (18:38)
People can still congregate with a shelter in place. And what a shelter in place says is actually that you should never leave the house. And so what we are telling people is to stay at home and only make essential trips and only get exercise and fresh air with your family. Just like we were able to do with the tidal basin, even though anybody who’s familiar with the tidal basin knows that there’s not a gate. There’s not a fence all around it. And so in order to really restrict people’s walking access, you have to figure out a way to loop off a really big expanse of area to keep people from walking in.
Muriel Bowser: (19:22)
We also know that it created an opportunity for people just to go take to the street, if you will. So now they’re not walking around the tidal basin, but they’re riding bikes and walking. And I think they start out probably with the right idea that they’re going to social distance, but it’s too many people doing that too. So don’t go down on the closed street and use it as if it is an open street for what you’re doing. Just stay away from the tidal base because too many people have the idea that they can social distance from others. It’s too many people. That’s why we have closed it, not just right on top of the tidal basin, but for blocks beyond it.
Speaker 3: (20:08)
Yes, mayor, I’m just kind of curious in terms of the reconfiguring the existing facilities, sort of the unused hotels. How many are you looking at and what’s the need for beds and for space? Just kind of quantify it.
Muriel Bowser: (20:21)
Well, let me just say that we have a medium term plan and worst case scenario plan. Our teams at Health and HSEMA are very actively working on what it would take to get a facilities up in the medium term to deal with a medical surge if the hospitals cannot handle it. And you’ve heard kind of our priority, first looking at unused space in hospitals. And we have several hospitals where that is the case. I’ll tell you for one at the United Medical Center, we have a floor that we’re looking to engage and to have operational. There are other instances like that at hospitals around the city that we are gauging. We have some empty facilities that are private that we’re also looking to engage to see what it would take to get them back up and operating. And there are at least two of those. And then we are at the same time planning a worst case scenario if we need a mass new facility to be opened.
Speaker 2: (21:31)
Therefore, can you say what those two empty facilities are? And what’s the medium term and what’s the worst case scenario? To kind of give readers and viewers a sense of what we’re looking at in terms of your medium term planning and your worst case scenario.
Muriel Bowser: (21:43)
Well, I don’t want to talk about the two additional facilities at this point, but when we are able to, we’ll share that information with you. I think that what, and I don’t want to guess on the number of beds that the medium term would provide at this point, but I could say it’s-
Muriel Bowser: (22:01)
But I could say it’s… I’m going to ask Chris to talk about just the range of what those medium term numbers are.
We’re not going to talk about numbers right now because we’re still getting data in. FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers, we have the CDC working on modeling for us at this time to try to anticipate what we might need in the future. So, I think it would not be accurate to give you numbers at this time because, again, the data is still coming in and we’re still crunching the numbers. That said, as the mayor mentioned and Dr. Nesbit has mentioned, we’ve already taken steps. Our medium term plan is to, again, shed load, which we’ve done, and to look at expanding space in existing hospitals with DC Health and Dr. Nesbit have done as well. So, we’ve already taken a lot of steps to prepare for surge. And then, as our modeling comes in and if we have to scale up, we’ll be prepared to do that as well.
Speaker 5: (23:08)
Mayor Bowser, you seem not one to go to the step of ordering a shelter in place. How close are you, when do you think you might order non-essential businesses to close? Are you at that point yet?
Muriel Bowser: (23:22)
We are constantly examining business functions that we think can adhere to the social distancing requirement and there could be additional guidance coming out about those.
Speaker 5: (23:39)
Muriel Bowser: (23:39)
As soon as we have a good assessment.
Speaker 5: (23:41)
And then, on two other issues, one, the tax deadline. You see the federal government has extended to July 15th. What are you going to do about local tax, extension of deadlines, and have you given any thought about people are complaining that they’re still getting parking tickets, and other jurisdictions have suspended parking enforcement?
Muriel Bowser: (24:02)
I expect that our tax deadline will be extended to coincide with the feds. There was a question if we need to update the law to do it, but I expect that to be extended. We’ll confirm that with everybody. And I think we’re pretty relaxed on ticketing now. I’ll check in with the team to see what types of tickets are being given, but let me be clear, don’t park in handicap spaces, bus zones, don’t park in the bike lanes, and egregious parking is still not allowed. To that extent, you could still get a ticket. So, be mindful because we need our vehicles to be able to move and we still need people to be safe when using the road. Yes?
Speaker 4: (24:51)
Could you give us an update on the number of ICU beds available and ventilators available?
Muriel Bowser: (24:56)
Let me ask Dr. Nesbit.
Dr. Nesbitt: (24:59)
[inaudible 00:24:59] data for today.
Muriel Bowser: (25:01)
Okay, can we follow up with you about those data points? Yes?
Speaker 6: (25:07)
Going back to the hospitals, what are they saying they’re needing? You mentioned swabs and ventilators. What else are hospitals saying they’re needed, and are they feeling a little overwhelmed anywhere or are they prepared for the surge?
Dr. Nesbitt: (25:20)
We are in constant communication with all of our hospital providers. The assessments that we have in the district are similar to what you hear nationally. As director Rodriguez mentioned, we have gone through phases with our hospitals and healthcare system leaders. They have taken the critical and essential steps of eliminating nonessential healthcare services and elective procedures. And so, they’re in a really good position as it relates to their current admissions in the hospitals and healthcare facilities and volume in the emergency departments is down.
Dr. Nesbitt: (25:52)
That being said, we all are facing challenges across the healthcare delivery system, in public health, and as it relates to our ability to quickly implement high throughput testing sites that would not have limitations on them because of the access to personal protective equipment and laboratory supplies, including swabs and reagents. So, all of our healthcare systems are reporting those same challenges, just as the mayor has highlighted in her remarks, that we are facing those challenges as it relates to the supply chain and assistance from the federal government.
Speaker 7: (26:30)
I understand that you’ve now opened homeless shelters 24/7. Is that correct?
Muriel Bowser: (26:37)
Oh, yes. During the day, yes, they continue to remain open during the day hours.
Speaker 7: (26:44)
So, they don’t have to, I guess, [crosstalk 00:04:46].
Muriel Bowser: (26:47)
… Low barrier shelters frequently in most of them, their hours. So, during the day, the residents go different places, job training, libraries, day center services. They have the opportunity to connect to more services throughout the city. We have eliminated that requirement during the public health emergency mostly for the same reasons, we’re trying to contain people in the locations that they’re familiar with.
Speaker 7: (27:23)
Back to the title basin area, are people allowed to walk on the mall at all or what? What’s the deal there?
Muriel Bowser: (27:30)
You are allowed to walk on the mall. You’re not allowed to have a pickup, kickball, soccer, or any other congregation on the mall. We are also encouraging you not to congregate with people outside of your family unit. Yes?
Speaker 8: (27:51)
[inaudible 00:27:51] questions, one, first responders. I’m wondering if you can update us on number of firefighters and police officers who have tested positive but also the number of firefighters and police officers who were currently self quarantined?
Muriel Bowser: (28:03)
Okay, Kevin will do that.
Kevin Donahue: (28:06)
For MPD, there’s currently one MPD member who has tested positive. Based on the analysis of contact as of this morning, there’s one police officer who is being quarantined as a result of interaction. That contact tracing will continue today. But as of right now, one positive, one quarantine. For fire EMS, there are 118 individuals who are quarantined and I believe seven individuals, seven members, who have tested positive.
Kevin Donahue: (28:40)
I want to highlight that not all 118 are quarantined as a result of interaction with those seven. About a third of them and another about 40 of them are quarantined based on interactions they had off duty. About 80 of them are, in fact, based on interactions they had on the job with one of the seven individuals who tested positive. Again, that’s information that, as we go throughout the day, we update as more facts come in. But that’s what I have right now for you.
Speaker 8: (29:10)
Can I just clarify on the MPD, because on Friday, you were at 70 and I know you distinguish, you can quarantine and self quarantine.
Kevin Donahue: (29:21)
There’s a list MPDs keeps of individuals who are basically showing signs of the flu, that they keep every year, not just COVID-19. They want to know how many people are sick. As a result of illnesses they did not get on the job, so not an injury. And that number is about 80. The problem with that number that we gave last week is that when I said, “Well, how many are quarantined?” There’s 80, or how many are self reporting that they think they have it? Really, the numbers are pretty consistent with prior years.
Kevin Donahue: (29:56)
Now, I’ve asked to chief [inaudible 00:29:58] to indicate how many are really quarantined either for interaction with a member or interaction off duty. And that number right now is one. But we wanted to really distinguish that because it gave, I think, the false impression that this one police officer somehow has resulted in 80 people being quarantined.
Speaker 8: (30:16)
I think it gave the impression that there were 70 officers who were not on duty because they were, for whatever reason, self quarantined.
Kevin Donahue: (30:23)
Speaker 8: (30:25)
80 officers who are not coming to work for whatever reason, health related?
Kevin Donahue: (30:29)
Yes, and that number is about 15% higher than last year. So, it’s pretty consistent with end of year flus and allergies. Again, that may change tomorrow or this evening, but that’s what I have for you right now. And hopefully, that gives some more clarity that you can look into the numbers with. Thank you.
Speaker 9: (30:50)
Kevin Donahue: (30:57)
It’s too early to tell. Judging from a week or two, if you ask me in two more weeks and there’s some sustained trend, then I’d give an answer, but it’s too early looking at a week or twos of data about trends that we think might be sustained as a result of people being more careful with their whereabouts and with their bodies.
Speaker 10: (31:22)
[inaudible 00:31:22] last I saw one DC jail inmate had been tested and that test was negative. Do you know if that’s accurate?
Kevin Donahue: (31:28)
Speaker 10: (31:29)
And have any more been tested?
Kevin Donahue: (31:31)
That was a test as a result of a travel concern. It was an individual who had been in a country for which there was a widespread COVID-19 and, as a precaution, was tested and the test came out negative.
Speaker 10: (31:46)
And have any more been tested since then?
Kevin Donahue: (31:48)
No, the DC jail has a health clinic inside the jail. They have regular visits with the inmates and, as of right now, they have deemed medically to only test at one individual, and that was a negative test.
Speaker 11: (32:05)
[inaudible 00:32:05] people who have tested positive?
Dr. Nesbitt: (32:12)
Speaker 12: (32:16)
Question for Dr. Nesbit. Would you mind giving us details about the 65 year old woman who passed, how she contracted it? And the other question is other jurisdictions have been discouraging people with mild symptoms from getting the COVID-19 tests because the tests require the PPE equipment. Do you see us reaching that point in DC or have we reached that point here?
Dr. Nesbitt: (32:37)
We’ve provided all the details we’re going to provide related to the case. As it relates to who accesses COVID-19 testing, doctors decide who gets tested. We’ve encouraged anyone who has symptoms, who is not experiencing a medical emergency, to contact their healthcare provider. Healthcare providers have established the protocols that they’re going to use…
Dr. Nesbitt: (33:03)
Fighters have established the protocols that they’re going to use to screen their patients and determine if their patients should come into their healthcare facilities for testing or if they are implementing other modes for testing. Some may have deployed a in home testing or a mobile testing as the mayor mentioned. We have visited some mobile testing sites this past weekend.
Dr. Nesbitt: (33:21)
So that’s where we stand in the district for determining who who gets tested. I will say that as public health responses to pandemics go, as impacts a particular jurisdiction, it is not uncommon for a approach to be taken where clinical diagnoses are made. We have not reached that point in the district, however, we may have to provide that guidance in the future.
Speaker 13: (33:51)
Dr. Nesbit, I’m wondering two things, one, do you have any geographic data, like a breakdown by the ward? Is there other clusters? We’ve seen data from states that break it down by counties and whatnot. So just wondering if you’re seeing anything geographically.
Speaker 13: (34:07)
And then, when we see these tests with a lot of young people who are testing positive children and people are under 40, 30, down to eight years old, do you know, are they asymptomatic when they test? And what do we read into these numbers of ages, if anything?
Dr. Nesbitt: (34:25)
We are unable to draw any definitive conclusions about the ages of individuals being impacted in the district at this time. There’s still a lot that we are learning about the impact of COVID-19 on particular age groups in the district and in the U.S., In particular.
Dr. Nesbitt: (34:41)
We also, due to the number of cases that we have at this time, are unable to provide any public data around geography of where cases are in the District of Columbia. It is something that we will monitor and we will continue to monitor. However, I can confirm that we do not see geographic clusters upon my review of the data.
Reporter 2: (35:04)
Mayor Bowser, can we ask about your, you mentioned you visited two health care facilities. Could you name those? And then just, what is the mood? What are you seeing as far as stress on staff? Just anecdotally, we’re hearing from patients who say staff are rude and they seem to be less than compassionate. And I’m wondering just what you were seeing anecdotally.
Muriel Bowser: (35:29)
Well we and Dr. Nesbit has done more of these visits and actually been inside of the hospital and ERs. We visited together two mobile sites that Children’s Hospital and Kaiser Permanente are putting on. And Children’s Hospital will release more information, particularly about testing children and health care workers, which is their focus. And Kaiser, their doctors referring to the mobile sites throughout the region, kaiser members.
Reporter 2: (36:04)
And just your thoughts, maybe Dr. Nesbit’s thoughts on the stress, you know on, just the personal interaction between patient caregivers and patients.
Muriel Bowser: (36:15)
Well I certainly will turn to Dr. Nesbit to respond to that, but I think everybody is stressed. I think that the healthcare professionals are certainly feeling a lot of stress as they prepare. And I think what Dr. Nesbit has seen and reported out to you when last we spoke, was that the shedding and that the demand on the ERs and other elective procedures in the hospitals and ERs is giving the staff the time they need to prepare in the case there is a medical surge.
Muriel Bowser: (36:51)
But I think also, that they are very focused because they recognize the need to conserve PPE and to provide medically necessary care. And that includes testing. So, as everybody recognizes and understands those interactions is very important, and that everybody is taking advantage of the alternative ways to see your doctors, including telemedicine, including calling them to get advice. That is going to make the very precious hospital resources available for those most in need. Yes?
Reporter 3: (37:28)
So in cases where a doctor were to recommend to someone that they self quarantine or self isolate or whatever term you want to use, is there a system by which the government, the Department of Health can track these people to make sure that they’re doing that? Or is it basically honor system? Like we trust that you’re going to listen to us on this one.
Muriel Bowser: (37:42)
There is not a system where we have to track people.
Reporter 4: (37:49)
Yes Mayor, just kind of curious in terms of the measures over the weekend to control the crowds at the Tidal Basin. When did you realize that the crowds were forming and ignoring social distance and what was the communication with the parks service and park police over how to handle it and when did they decide to use DC police to set up the roadblocks?
Muriel Bowser: (38:07)
I decided to use DC police. The DC police work for us, the park police work for the park service. On Friday, I had a conversation with the Secretary of The Interior. I let him know that we were updating our guidance on parks and that we wanted to see restricted access to the Tidal Basin and I think that they made some changes with vehicular access on parking and the like and made those announcements. But people still flocked to those sites. And we just realized when we were going to have another very good weather day, that if we were going to stop, even though we’ve canceled the parades, we’ve closed the restaurants, the museums are closed, the trees will still bloom as they do every year. And people from not just DC but allover the region were flocking to that location. And the measures that we employed are pretty extraordinary. We do not police national parks. So for us to use our local police resources to basically police a national park is an extraordinary use, but we thought very necessary.
Reporter 4: (39:31)
When Saturday did you decide that you wanted to use the police? Like early on in the day just to kind of …
Muriel Bowser: (39:36)
No, it was probably in the evening on Saturday. Yes?
Reporter 5: (39:41)
So just to take this hypothetical a step further, I mean the Arboretum has dogwoods. Those eventually bloom. That usually crowds, not only the Arboretum, but the neighborhood right next to it, where people are parking. I mean, is there a chance that you want to … Do you talk to the Interior Secretary about that possibility?
Muriel Bowser: (39:55)
I didn’t talk about the Arboretum, but we plan, actually it may be happening right now, to have a more global discussion with the national parks. The city administrator and members of our team are doing that, maybe as we speak. Thank you. Yep?
Reporter 6: (40:18)
Getting back to the nonessential business closures, I mean, so Governor Hogan is ordering that right now. Can you go back a little bit to that? Are you considering that?
Muriel Bowser: (40:25)
I just, I’ve already covered that.