DC mayor considering reinstating mask mandate amid record COVID-19 cases
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said she is considering reinstating a mask mandate amid a record number of COVID-19 cases in the city.
The city on Thursday reported 508 new COVID-19 cases from the previous day, a record number since the start of the pandemic.
“But no one should be surprised that in the winter months cases go up,” Bowser said during remarks at a groundbreaking event with Habitat for Humanity. “They are going up across the country and they’re going up in places in the world.”
Bowser said under the city’s Department of Health guidance, everyone should be wearing a mask already since there is a rate of high transmission. However, she is considering reinstating the mask mandate.
“DC, remain vigilant and work together to slow the spread,” Bowser tweeted, encouraging mask wearing, vaccinations, testing, staying home if sick and rethinking social gatherings.
DC, remain vigilant and work together to slow the spread:
✔️ Get vaccinated
✔️ Get boosted
✔️ Stay home if you’re sick
✔️ Reconsider social gatherings
✔️ Wear a mask indoors
✔️ Get tested
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) December 17, 2021
Bowser announced in November that the district was lifting its mask mandate for most indoor public settings. The restriction was lifted on Nov. 22.
Shortly after the mask mandate was lifted, the World Health Organization announced a new variant of concern — the omicron variant. Currently, D.C. is also among dozens of other areas that have detected cases of the new strain, which was first discovered in South Africa.
D.C. announced four cases of the variant on Dec. 12. Omicron has been shown in early studies to be more transmissible than the delta variant. But scientists and public health experts say that the new strain may be less severe than delta.
“If you feel sick, you need to stay home,” Bowser said. “If you’re going to social events, you might want to think about if you need to go or not. Limit those events. Stay in a closed bubble. Wear a mask indoors that includes in public spaces and that includes in private homes and other settings where you’re not sure. Figure out how you can get tested before you can go to social events.”