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Coronavirus Updates & Information from DC Government, Metro & Other Sources

[For links to the current issue Lead Stories, scroll down past this special report]

For the latest infection data and for advisories focused on mayoral & agency directives and policy decisions affecting restaurants, bars, etc. and other retail & service business closures, DC city services adjustments & reductions, see below. (Prior reports & directives can also be found by visiting https://coronavirus.dc.gov. Also included below are Metro service reductions and information from other sources. (For an historical perspective we call attention to our What Once Was feature story in the October 2018 issue about the 1918-’19 Spanish Influenza epidemic and its impact on Washington.)

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As reported on the afternoon of April 2nd by District Links, “[a] coalition of 30-plus community groups is urging DC officials to step up relief efforts for DC residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout. To read the 8-page letter click here.

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As of Tuesday morning, April 7th reporting, DC’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) data showed 229 new positive cases,up from 114 yesterday, bringing the District’s overall positive case total now to 1,440; reported deaths increased by 5 to a total of 27. Data reporting now sorted by age, gender, and by number of cases by ward  — click here to see (though there does often seem to be a delay in the daily postings until the afternoon).

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More Metro Service Reductions Announced

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Effective Monday morning, April 6th, Metro will further reduce rail & bus service, stating that the “decision to end service earlier reflects a significant drop-off in ridership since Metro began asking riders to limit use of the system to ‘essential trips only’ to enhance safety for employees and individuals who must travel during the COVID-19 public health emergency.” This action has been taken consistent with the stay-at-home orders of DC’s mayor and the Maryland and Virginia governors.

Metrorail

■ Mon.-Fri. 5am–9pm: every 20 min. (except 15 min. on Red Line);
■ Sat.-Sun. 8am-9pm: every 30 min. (except 20 min. on Red Line);
■ The 19 rail stations listed as closed in our March 26th Metro report below continue to be closed and with no alternate transportation provided;
■ Each train’s first and last cars are out of service to protect train operators.

Metrobus

■ Mon.-Fri.: modified Sunday schedule in effect with no service after 11pm (consult wmata.com to check weekday bus routes to make sure your bus is running);
■ Sat.-Sun.: service every 30 min. on 27 routes only with no service on other weekend routes(consult weekend routes before traveling);
■ MetroAccess: All subscription trips remain canceled with only the most essential trips to be provided..

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Effective 12.01 Wednesday, April 1st, all residents and visitors will be subject to an enforceable stay at home Order mandating that people may only leave their residences to:

■ “Engage in essential activities, including obtaining medical care that cannot be provided through telehealth and obtaining food and essential household goods;
■ “Perform or access essential governmental functions;
■ “Work at essential businesses;
■ “Engage in essential travel; or
■ “Engage in allowable recreational activities, as defined by the Mayor’ s Order.” [Ed. Note: this & other detailed explanations of all elements covered by the Order can be found by clicking here.]

Violation is a misdemeanor: “Any individual who willfully violates the stay-at-home order may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both. [Ed. Note: We have subsequently learned from an outside source with MPD connections that officers are instructed noit to stop & question or otherwise purse inquiries as to why individuals are outside.]

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 On the evening of Tue., Mar. 24th, Mayor Bowser announced the following Order requiring the temporary closure of all non-essential businesses and the prohibition of gatherings of 10 or more people:

As of 10 pm, Wed., Mar. 25th through Apr. 24th, non-essential business and business activities listed (in no announced order of priority) below affected:

■ Tour guides and touring services;
■ Gyms, health clubs;
■ Spas, massage establishments;
■ Theaters, auditoriums, other places of large gatherings;
■ Restaurants (carryout service allowed), bars, taverns, nightclubs;
■ Hair, nail, tanning salons;
■ Barbershops;
■ Tattoo parlors;
■ Sales not involved in essential services [ed. note: we were unable to obtain guidance on how this restriction to be determined or how enforced.];
■ Retail clothing stores;
■ Professional services not devoted to assisting essential business operations. [Ed. note: we have been able to determine through the relevant trade associations that hardeware stores are considered essential businesses like grocery and drug stores.]

For a comprehensive, all-encompassing explanation, Mayor’s Order No. 2020-053 provides detailed specifics. To open the document, scroll down to page 4 and Sec. IV, “Definitions,” where will be found Essential Businesses mean”; click here to open.

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Effective Thursday morning Mar. 26th, the Metro stations listed below (those denoted with a ‘ mark are in DC) will be closed as per the following advisory: The following stations (in addition to those previously closed at Arlington Nat’l. Cemetery & Smithsonian) within walking distance or close proximity less than one mile to an adjacent station will be closed:

Federal Center SW – use L’Enfant Plaza or Capitol South;
■ Federal Triangle – use Metro Center;
■ Mt. Vernon Sq., Judiciary Sq., Archives – use Gallery Place / Chinatown;
Greensboro – use Spring Hill or Tysons Corner;
Eisenhower Ave – use King St. / Old Town;
Virginia Square – use Ballston;
■ Cleveland Park – use Woodley Park or Van Ness.

Metro will also close some DC station entrances — but not the stations — to conserve cleaning supplies and create additional workforce flexibility; the platforms will remain accessible from other available entrances. The affected DC stations are:

■ Anacostia – entrance serving parking garage at Howard Rd. north of the Anacostia Freeway closed, bus bay side open;
■ Farragut North – southwest corner of L St. & Conn. Ave. closed, 2 others open;
■ Dupont Circle – south entrance at 19th St. & Conn. Ave. closed, north entrance at Q St. open;
■ Metro Center – 12th & F Sts. entrance closed; 3 others open;
■ Reagan WashingtonNational Airpor – north entrance at Terminal C closed, south entrance at Terminal B open;
■ U Street – east entrance at Vermont Ave. Civil War mewmorial closed, 13th & U sts. entrance open;
■ Gallery  Place / Chinatown – 9th &  G Sts entrance closed, 2 others open;
■ L’Enfant Plaza – 7th & D Sts. entrance closed, Maryland Ave. at 9th & D Sts. entrances open;
■ Friendship Heights – Jennifer St entrance closed; Western Ave entrance open.

As explained by Metro’s Pandemic Task Force, this “strategic closing [is done]. . . in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.

“These steps will help reduce the risk of exposure to employees and save critical cleaning supplies for the remaining stations. While Metro increased its on-hand warehouse inventory of essential supplies, such as hospital-grade disinfectant, wipes, hand sanitizer, and other items used by Metro’s frontline employees, suppliers are experiencing delivery delays. Metro is taking action to make its current 2-3 week warehouse supply stretch until massive orders placed in late January are received.

“Each Metrorail station has multiple escalators, faregates and other high touch surfaces that are being cleaned daily, including some stations with multiple entrances. By reducing the number of entrances, Metro will be able to better protect its workforce and customers and prolong the inventory of these critical supplies needed to keep the system open.”

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On the morning of Tue., Mar. 24th, Mayor Bowser announced the following cutbacks at certain agency service centers:

“In-person customer service centers at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and Department of Transportation will be closed effective Wednesday, March 25.” The Mayor Bowser also extended deadlines for government documents, inspections, and other requirements. For specific information appertaining at each of the named agencies, click here.

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On the afternoon of Fri., Mar. 20th, Mayor Muriel Bowser extended to Sat., Apr. 25th her Order 2020-04 announced on Mar. 16th prohibiting mass gatherings with respect to restaurants, bars, taverns as follows (slightly edited):

“C. [As of 10 pm March 16th] Restaurants and Taverns licensed in [DC] shall suspend [emphasis supplied] table seating . . . until April 1, 2020, at 6 am. [Ed. Note: per the extension noted above, new date is Apr. 25th.]

“D. Restaurants and Taverns may operate delivery and grab-and-go operations only.

“E.  In order to comply with {DC Health] . . . Emergency Rulemaking, . . . nightclubs, multipurpose facilities, health clubs, health spas, massage establishments, and theatres . . . must suspend [emphasis supplied] operations. . . .”

Additionally, as announced on Mar 20th, “all DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) facilities, including playgrounds, parks, and athletic fields, will be closed to the public.”

The full text of the Order issued on Mar. 16th, which covers other important matters including “mass gatherings” and responses to concerns regarding offices, hotels, and residential buildings can be reviewed in the document by clicking here.

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“D.C. leaders fear an outbreak that cripples the country”
“The nation’s capital — with its hundreds of thousands of workers responsible for running the nation’s coronavirus response — is about to get socked.” Click here to read the full POLITICO report. And on Saturday, April 4th the Washington Post reported DC Mayor Bowser as having declared the strong possibility that the District could see one in seven residents being infected and with the peak not until late June or early July. For the full story click here.

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