WASHINGTON (WDVM) — District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a state of emergency on Monday, December 20, as COVID-19 cases climb in the District while a new variant starts to circulate.
D.C. Health reports less than 10 cases of the Omicron variant in the District, with 97% of new cases sequencing as the Delta variant. Still, officials expect the number of Omicron cases to rise in the coming weeks.
As part of the state of emergency, the Mayor is reissuing the indoor mask mandate, effective Tuesday, December 21, at 6:00 a.m. The mandate will run through at least January 31 at 6:00 a.m. Additionally, D.C. Government employees are now required to be fully vaccinated and boosted against the virus, with no test-out option.
The Mayor’s Office continues encouraging District residents to get vaccinated and take part in layered mitigation strategies in order to stay safe. These strategies include getting tested frequently so that someone is not unknowingly spreading the virus, staying home and getting tested if someone feels sick, staying home and isolating if someone tests positive, wearing masks indoors, even at small gatherings, choosing activities wisely and reconsidering social events and considering not only someone’s own risk, but the risk of those who they will be around.
The District is also working to make testing more accessible and quick for residents. Currently, there are free PCR COVID-19 tests at sites across the District — including eight firehouse sites — and there are 36 Test Yourself D.C. pick-up and drop-off locations.
Nine of the 36 Test Yourself D.C. locations were announced to open during the press conference on December 20. These sites can all be found on coronavirus.dc.gov/testyourself. The health department also ordered over one million rapid antigen tests to add to the city’s supply.
Starting on Wednesday, December 22, the Test Yourself Express program will open, which will give residents the chance to pick up free at-home rapid antigen kits. There will be pick-up locations in each ward, at District libraries. The libraries will be offering the kits six days a week to District residents. There will be 1,000 kits per library, per day and residents can get two free rapid tests each day.
To help D.C. Health have the most accurate depiction of COVID-19 data, residents are encouraged to go to coronavirus.dc.gov/overthecounter to report the results of their at-home tests.
For more information on testing sites or COVID-19 metrics, click here.