Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a limited public health emergency due to Covid-19 beginning immediately until Jan. 26. The emergency powers, announced Tuesday, are intended to help the city’s hospitals and public health facilities that are feeling the strain under the rise in Covid-19 cases.
“Notwithstanding the large number of persons vaccinated against Covid-19 in the District and the effectiveness of those vaccinations at preventing severe illness and death, stress on the District’s hospitals and healthcare providers has recently increased,” the order says. “The physical capacity of hospitals remains strong, but emergency rooms are overwhelmed. Hospitals cannot use all their bed capacity due to staff shortages. Some hospitals are experiencing 25% staff out on Covid-related leave.”
The directive says that the emergency posturing will allow the city “to appropriately protect public health and provide the authority necessary to modify administrative procedures, deadlines and standards” while it is in place. The mayor does reserve the right to extend the emergency if she feels it is necessary.
On Monday, the mayor announced during a press conference that the District was creating six new testing centers dedicated to senior residents and an enhanced system for testing kits for young school children and staff.