Washington, DC, declares state of emergency over coronavirus

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) declared a state of emergency Wednesday after six additional cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus were confirmed, bringing the District’s tally to 10 cases. 

The declaration allows Bowser to request federal disaster funds and address price gouging. It also gives her the authority to order quarantines without court approval for someone who has made contact with positive cases, is confirmed positive themselves or is deemed to be “high risk.”

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Bowser said the city health department is renting a facility that can quarantine up to 50 people at a time, though the specific location was not disclosed Wednesday. 

One of the six new cases was a person who made contact with a previously identified case. Two others had recently traveled to a foreign country, and the remaining three had no known confirmed contact.

“We have person-to-person transmission occurring in the District of Columbia as well as at least two individuals whose reasons for COVID-19 have yet to be identified,” said D.C. health director LaQuandra Nesbitt.

The announcement came hours after the city recommended all non-essential gatherings of 1,000 or more in the city be canceled.

Concerts and sporting events nationwide have been canceled or delayed because of the outbreak, with the NCAA announcing Wednesday that its basketball tournaments would go forward without fans in the stands.

City officials have canceled certain events in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival but not the celebration as a whole.