Mayor Muriel Bowser: D.C. 6 Days Away from Reopening Target

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks at a news conference in Washington on Saturday, March 7, 2020, to announce the first presumptive positive case of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said on Monday that the city is just six days away from reaching the criteria necessary to begin reopening, with “community spread” cases of the novel coronavirus trending on a decline over the past eight days.

“We are eight days toward 14 days of decrease,” Bowser announced on Monday, adding that other critical metrics, like testing and hospital capacity, are “also on track.”

“And I think also our tracing capability is almost where we needs it to be,” the mayor stated.

Bowser last month outlined the public health criteria necessary for the nation’s capital to begin the reopening process — requirements which include a consistent downward trend in new coronavirus cases over a two week period and a health care system that is able to “treat everyone who needs care without the use of Crisis Standards of Care.”

“In other words we need to make sure that we’re able to provide appropriate care for everyone who needs it,” she said during the April 23 press conference, emphasizing the importance of wide spread contract tracing ability and accessible testing.

The mayor signaled that an announcement on the reopening process could come as early as Thursday if trends continue in the current direction.

D.C. reported 7,270 cases of the coronavirus in the district and 392 related deaths as of Monday afternoon.

Bowser’s update comes as members of Congress continue to grapple with the implications of the shutdown orders and fears over the virus, with the Democrat-led House on Friday approving a rule change, allowing members to vote by proxy, 217 to 189.

“Now, a member can vote on behalf of 10 others who can’t travel to Washington, D.C. Committees can also hold hearings and markups through video conference,” NPR reported.

Republicans are largely unhappy with the rule change, contending that it undermines years of constitutional tradition.

“We can continue to work in a safe and effective manner without overturning 230 years of constitutional and legislative tradition,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stated.

“It’s unconstitutional, first of all,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said of the rule change during a Friday appearance on Fox News Channel’s Hannity.

“Because a quorum under this — just — this resolution they just passed, 20 people on the floor, 20 Democrats can constitute a quorum of the House of Representatives, 435 people. That goes against Article I of the Constitution,” he continued.

“If they pass anything significant using this, it will be challenged. It’ll be challenged,” he promised.

Bowser last week extended the city’s stay-at-home order to June 8, emphasizing that she has the ability to revise the order “at any time to reflect a phased reopening, if the data suggests that we can do that.”

Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Monday announced that he will allow officials in Virginia Beach to reopen its beaches with certain restrictions in time for Memorial Day weekend. Group sports, for instance, are prohibited, as are speakers, alcohol, tents, and “groupings under umbrellas.” Parking lots will be capped at a 50 percent capacity.

“It’s very simple. You must be responsible,” Northam said.

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