Coronavius Update 3-26-20

Breaking News: District closes all non-essential businesses beginning tonight at 10 pm! Beginning tonight at 10 pm, the District will close all businesses deemed "non-essential."

This is an incredibly hard thing to ask of so many of our favorite businesses that literally make up the fabric of what we love about our neighborhoods — but it is also the right thing to do. It’s a sacrifice that is being asked of many of our neighbors who pour their sweat and passion into creating great local shops that give us so much. It’s also a sacrifice being born by that friendly face behind the counter, stocking the shelves, or answering your questions who likely just lost their job. And that may even be you, as you read this email. If you are a Ward 6 business owner or employee or want to stay plugged in, we're building a separate mailing list here you can join to share updates or organize around

I want to clarify that retail businesses are allowed to shift to an online/delivery model during this time. Here's more info: 

Q — What if my business primarily sells non perishable goods?

A — Under Mayor’s Order 2020-053 dated March 24, 2020, definitions includes “businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services.” Retail businesses not otherwise enumerated as essential may operate for the purpose of delivery of essential goods but may not allow customers on premises, at their entrances or at curbside and must restrict operates to delivery only.

Under the definitions section of minimum basic business operations (which non-essential businesses are allowed to provide):  The minimum necessary activities to facilitate teleworking or the remote delivery of services formerly provided in-person by the business.  IV4.c.

To eventually curb this crisis that is still building in our communities, it is an unfortunate but necessary step. But I'm also very concerned and working hard on actions we can take now to help our local businesses survive - even if in a reduced capacity for the next few months - to help them rebuild and rebound when the recovery begins. And we all have a role to play in this as well. Please check on your favorite stores and consider making a purchase with them online, on the phone, or via a delivery or carry out. Try skipping Amazon for a week or two, and keep your dollars local. Now more than ever, they need you.

Let me turn to another direct ask I have of you because so many others are making sacrifices, and that means we all need to as well. There may not be a formal Stay-At-Home Order in place, and I may not be able to order you to do so, but please, in the strongest terms I can possibly ask, please stay home as much as you can. I realize it's challenging for many (and I promise, it is for me too!). But keep in mind that for others, it is critically important that you do so. Already, neighbors around Ward 6 are testing positive or have been exposed and quarantined - children, young adults, parents, and seniors. 

When we stay home, we aren't just protecting ourselves. We are helping those with compromised immune systems. We're staying home to protect our neighbors who are keeping the District's support networks running -- the nurses and doctors and technicians in our hospitals, our firefighters and police officers. But also, the people re-stocking our grocery stores. The people keeping our water treatment facilities, power plants, and other critical infrastructure running. So many people, and their families, are depending on you to stay home as much as you can.

Of course, you’re not trapped in your home. But, please, only head out for urgent needs like going to the grocery store or pharmacy, or to stretch your legs, walk the dog, or get some exercise. You can take a walk in the park or grab something for dinner, but when you do, you must practice social distancing. What you can’t do right now is hold that barbecue, invite someone over to have dinner, or meet up to play a game with friends. These things will have to wait. Because the challenge, we know, is that even while everyone might feel healthy that day, the symptoms might show up later and the coronavirus has already spread.

Remember, the goal of "flatten the curve" is to reduce the strain on our hospitals and health care system by slowing the spread.

The fewer people out and about, the safer it is for everyone else who has to be out there. Please, please, take seriously efforts to flatten the curve and keep people out of the hospital. The measures to close restaurants and bars and other spaces is a hard sacrifice to have made. Let's make it worth it to the many service industry professionals and small and local businesses who are hurting right now. The sooner we get through this spike, the sooner we can evaluate our path forward.

To centralize information on meals for seniors and students, groceries, filing for unemployment, transportation changes, and more, I've set up a landing page on my website with the updates: http://www.charlesallenward6.com/covid_19_info

I'll quickly flag a few calendar items: 

This Thursday at 10 am, I'll once again hold a Virtual Field Trip for students live on Facebook. (Pssst... parents, I know scheduling activities every day is very hard, so hopefully this is at least 30 minutes of remote learning time!) The theme for this week is borrowing from Mr. Rogers to ask, "Who are the Helpers in Your Neighborhood?" Last week's chat was really great and I'd love to have you and your children join us again. You and your young one can ask any question they’d like, or also feel free to share what you’re thinking about who the helpers are in your community. If you send an email question or comment during the event, I’ll try to give each kid a “shout out” for writing in and I'll try to take as many questions as I can. And hopefully, Cora will join me!

Second, this Friday at 5 pm, let's do another Ward 6 Happy Hour! Last Friday, we started trending on Twitter as many Ward 6 neighbors ended the work week stepping out on the front porch, balcony, stoop, or front door to safely say hi to neighbors. I think this is a really important tradition for us to have right now, given how much time we are all spending isolated. Share a photo of your Ward 6 Happy Hour using (#Ward6HH) and let's bring our community together online. Plus, it's always nice to have something to look forward to.

Let me run through some other updates and key information: 

Small Business Grants Available: Last week the Council passed emergency legislation to begin handling the fallout from coronavirus's spread in the District. That included expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance and small business grants. Yesterday, the Small Business Microgrant Program began accepting applications through March 31st to distribute $25 million to small and local businesses and nonprofits. Check out the graphic to the right for some information. 

Unemployment Insurance Challenges: I've heard from a few residents that signing up for the expanded unemployment insurance has been challenging. There's been a big increase, as expected, in the number of applications the Department of Employment Services is trying to process. If you've been calling, try the web application, which runs best in Internet Explorer on a desktop or laptop. And please ignore any prompts warning about a rejection based on work search requirements. DOES is working with the vendor to fix this, but your application was received! If you're having a hard time, contact my Constituent Services team for help. We're trying to connect people as quickly as possible.

Testing and Coronavirus Update

Let's talk about testing for a moment, and why it is so important, even as the spread of the coronavirus continues. As I mentioned in my last email, we are seeing the number of positive cases dramatically increase locally and across the US as test results come back and more testing comes online. You can see the daily total of cases here. While I know this is alarming, remember we've known for weeks this was coming and we are not near the apex of this crisis yet. Testing continues to be critical as it informs every other step we take. It helps individuals know to isolate. It helps doctors know the precautions to take with patients. It helps us react to geographic outbreaks. The key now is to get thousands more tests going each day. 

FYI - Mayor Bowser will be holding daily media briefings available online at 11 am if you want to hear the latest. You can watch on Channel 16 or through this link.

Reconnecting Disconnected Utilities for Ward 6 Residents: Both DC Water and Pepco have announced efforts to re-connect customers who had been disconnected recently due to inability to pay. This is great news we need to share with neighbors who might be struggling.

  • Here's what you need to do know for DC WaterDC Water will begin restoring service tomorrow morning upon request. Customers whose water was shut off should email restore@dcwater.com or can call DC Water at 202-354-3750 starting Monday at 8 am. Customers requesting restored service can leave a message and DC Water will return their call.
  • For Pepco: While the company has already suspended all disconnections through at least May 1, residents who have had their electric service previously disconnected should contact the company at 202-833-7500 to begin the reconnection process.

Need Health Insurance? Enrollment Re-Opened: The DC Health Exchange, our local health marketplace, has allowed residents who are uninsured to sign-up for a health insurance plan. Learn more here or call (855) 532-5465 / TTY: 711. 

Federal and Local Tax Deadline Extended to July 15: In order to match the new federal tax deadline, the Mayor and Chief Financial Officer have moved back the tax deadline for local District residents to July 15. Residents are strongly encouraged to e-file. For questions, call Office of Tax and Revenue's customer service line: (202) 727-4TAX

Schools Update - Distance Learning is Underway! Beginning today, our public schools are engaging in distance learning. Resources for your DCPS student can be found here: https://dcps.instructure.com/courses/179580/pages/learners. Charter school students should check with their school leadership for distance learning instructions.

Second, I just want to make sure every parent saw that the Mayor has pushed back a potential return to school date until Monday, April 27. It’s not a surprise to many parents, and as a public school parent myself, I wouldn’t be surprised if that date moves back again. But the daily meals offered to students will continue as long as schools are closed. As a reminder, click the graphic to the right to see the Ward 6 locations serving daily meals for students.

DMV, DCRA, and DDOT Closing In-Person Visits: In an effort to further reduce the risk of exposure, starting tomorrow, March 25, three DC agencies will move entirely to online customer service - the Department of Transportation, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and the Department of Motor Vehicles. More information here from WAMU. Remember, the DMV has already extended the deadline for all renewals and fines due between March 1-April 28 until May 15. 

DPR Facilities Closed: All DPR facilities, playgrounds, and gated facilities are CLOSED and scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 27. Dog parks, skate parks, trails and open green spaces remain open during normal hours. During this time, practice social distancing, and as much as possible, just stay home. Seriously, I see you all in the dog park. Spread out or take your dog for a solo walk. Please!

WMATA Station Closures: Starting today, Wednesday, March 25, WMATA will be fully closing 17 stations and partially closing others to ensure adequate staffing. Here's the list: 

Station Closures

  1. Federal Center SW
  2. Mt. Vernon Sq*
  3. Judiciary Square
  4. Federal Triangle
  5. Archives Navy Memorial
  6. Smithsonian
  7. Arlington Cemetery
  8. Greensboro
  9. Eisenhower
  10. Virginia Square
  11. Cleveland Park
  12. Grosvenor-Strathmore
  13. Cheverly
  14. Clarendon
  15. East Falls Church
  16. College Park – UMD
  17. McLean
  18. Morgan Boulevard
  19. Van Dorn St


Partial Entrance Closure:

  1.  Anacostia North
  2.  Farragut North  /  L & Conn  S
  3.  Dupont Circle  / 19th St
  4.  Metro Center South  / 12 & F
  5.  King  Street--Old Town /  North
  6.  Ronald  Reagan  Washington  National  Airport  /  North
  7.  U  Street--African American Civil War Memorial--Cardozo /  U & VT
  8.  Gallery  Place--Chinatown  /  9 & G
  9.  L'Enfant  Plaza East /  (US DOT/Constitution Center)
  10. Friendship Heights, S (Jennifer St)

Support Local Restaurants with Takeout or Delivery: Nearly every local BID or Main Street program is running a list of businesses in that neighborhood offering takeout or delivery. Our restaurant industry was one of the first to take a huge hit from social distancing. As much as you can, try to support them by buying gift cards for future use or ordering online! 

Mt. Vernon Triangle Restaurant Listings
Capitol Riverfront
Shaw
H Street
Barracks Row Restaurants
Eastern Market - Capitol Hill
The Wharf

Volunteer Medical Corps - The District government has launched another volunteer effort, this one focused on training volunteers to provide basic medical support during the expected surge in healthcare needs. Here's more information on if this might be a good fit for you. I will also plug that the American Red Cross is putting out a call for healthy donors who can step up. As you can imagine, a lot of blood drives have been cancelled. 

See you on the front porch on Friday at 5 pm for #Ward6HH!

Charles Allen

 


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