This week brought news of an extended Stay-At-Home order by the Mayor. If you’ve been following the data and updates on DC’s testing and infection rates, this likely didn’t come as a surprise. But I also know that many neighbors were looking for an update by the Mayor on schools, summer camps, and more this week. Like you, my own household is trying to figure out the next few months for our kids. I’ve talked with the Mayor’s team and they are planning to provide a summer planning update next week - so stay tuned!
One item that doesn’t seem to be getting as much attention as it should be are the new requirements about masks or face coverings. By now, everyone should know that if you’re running to the grocery store or grabbing food at a restaurant to carry out, you are required to wear a face covering. But those requirements were expanded this week to include any time you’re on Metro and essentially, any time you’re in proximity to other people. If you’re not doing this already, please keep a mask on you at all times. It’s best just to keep it on and wear it when outside. I’ve got more details below, but this is not just for your own protection, but the mask is crucial to helping slow the spread if you happen to be infected and aren’t showing symptoms.
Next week, we should also begin to see more information shared about the work of the Mayor’s committees mapping out reopening criteria and recommendations. This will cover everything from schools and childcare to parks and playgrounds to local businesses, workplaces, transit, and much more. But I want to strongly caution against people relaxing right now. We need to plan for our recovery and how we restart our economy, but we’ve also seen around the country and around the globe that even talking about reopening starts to relax people’s habits in following the Stay-At-Home order. For most people who aren’t the essential employees keeping everything else in our city going, this is day 63 or 64 of being at home. I know it’s hard for you. It is for me, too. I know with warmer weather, we’re yearning for something more normal. But we can’t let the sacrifices of the last two months be wasted if we relax too early. We are not ready to reopen yet - and every public health official will echo that fact. You’ve all done a great job of looking after one another, of taking this seriously, of flattening the curve... and I believe it has saved lives. But we can and we will do this a little bit longer. Because we have to.
Quick Links: Stay-At-Home Order Extended | New Face Covering Requirements | FY21 Proposed Budget Release on Monday | Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety Facebook Town Hall | Free Counseling "Warm Line" | | How to Vote By Mail | Ward 6 Hits 56.4% in Census | Volunteer With Neighborhood Groups | Diapers Help | Groceries Help | Important Dates
Stay-At-Home Order Extended To June 8 On Wednesday, Mayor Bowser announced that the existing Stay-At-Home order has been extended through June 8. The Mayor’s Order can be found here. As Mayors and Governors around the country begin to evaluate how to safely reopen without a vaccine, DC government has established several criteria that the District must meet before beginning a phased reopening, including a 14-day decline in new COVID-19 cases, increased testing capacity, adequate health care system capacity, and a strong contract tracing program. The new Mayor's Order also authorizes the Department of Parks and Recreation to evaluate opening outdoor facilities, including athletic fields and dog parks, but not playgrounds, for allowable recreational activity.
Face Coverings Now Required In More Settings: If You Can't Social Distance, Wear A Mask! The Mayor’s Order also requires the use of masks or face coverings for all individuals in the District while engaging in business operations if others are present and essential travel if social distancing isn't possible. As of Monday, face coverings will be required on Metro, including in all stations, trains, buses, and MetroAccess vehicles. Face coverings are not required for children under nine years old (although parents are strongly encouraged to have their children between two and nine years old wear a mask), individuals experiencing homelessness, and individuals who cannot wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition or disability. Some useful guidance from the CDC on how to make and wear face coverings can be found here.
Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Release Delayed Until Monday We had previously been expecting the release of the Mayor's proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget earlier this week, but it has been rescheduled for Monday. Hearings scheduled for this week have been moved later in the month or to early June. Check here for more information about the upcoming budget process and schedule. As I mentioned before, the economic impact of COVID is severe and significant. Almost overnight, we’ve seen huge drops in revenue to the city and huge increases in needed expenditures. To put it simply, the state of our budget is nothing like what it was just three months ago. This will be the most difficult budget we’ve gone through in several years - with many areas needing investment and support, and with fewer resources available to meet them. To be sure, there will be difficult decisions and cuts to be made. But I also don’t believe we should simply look to an austerity-style budget to address the shortfall. In the coming weeks, we’ll have to work together to meet this challenge, especially to support those that are being hit so hard by the impacts of this pandemic.
Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety Facebook Town Hall As we begin a difficult budget season at the DC Council, I want to hear from you! As Chair of the Council's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I'm hosting a virtual Committee Budget Town Hall on Thursday, May 21, to share details about the proposed budget for agencies under the Committee's oversight, and to hear your priorities and questions. (We've rescheduled our annual Ward 6 Budget Town Hall for June 4 -- more details coming soon.) For a full list of the Committee's agencies, click here. And due to the changes in this year's budget process that mean we can't gather in person, we're also expanding the many ways you can provide public testimony on the budget. Send us a video! Leave us a voicemail! Submit questions for our hearings! Find all the details here: http://www.charlesallenward6.com/committee.
Feeling Stressed, Anxious, And Need to Talk? Talk with a clinician anytime in DC by calling 1-888-7WE-HELP (1-888-793-4397). It's hard right now. Even if you're staying in and working, it's hard. If you've lost a loved one or a friend or a job, it's hard. Talking it out helps. Here's information on how you can reach someone. This is a free service, considered a "warm line," meaning it's available just to help with stuff that might not rise to the level of an emergency, but it's certainly bothering you. It's okay to call and talk with someone who can offer a sympathetic ear and sound advice.
Ballots Are Being Mailed Out for June 2. Have you Requested Yours? The District has a Presidential and Local Primary Election coming up on June 2. We've dramatically shifted how DC residents can still vote. Over 55,000 voters have already requested their ballot by mail. Have you? You can request a mail-in ballot and vote from your couch! There have been a few glitches that the Board of Elections is working to fix, but I'll flag them here so you know:
Ward 6 Is Now at 56.4% Census Response: This is good news! We're seeing more and more folks participate in the US Census. Some of our biggest increases were in Southwest at Greenleaf and The Wharf. But there's still work to be done -- our goal for this week is 57% and the national rate is 58.6%. Next week, we need to see higher participation rates from the Capital Riverfront/ Navy Yard neighborhood, and Truxton Circle and the northeastern parts of Shaw. Here's how you can fill out the Census, which only takes about 10 minutes, from your home.
COVID-19 Resources in Ward 6: My staff and I are keeping a running list of resources available for Ward 6 residents on my website. That includes information on free daily meals for students and senior residents, free groceries and diapers, how to volunteer, how to get tested if you are symptomatic, and more. If there's something you'd like to see added or corrected, reach out to Laura Marks on my team (firstname.lastname@example.org): http://www.charlesallenward6.com/covid_19_info
Here's Who To Support Financially or By Volunteering: I know many folks are looking for ways to be helpful during these hard times. If you find yourself with a lot of time and you are healthy and able to volunteer, these are groups that can put you to work. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that if you are not feeling well at all, please do not volunteer. And if you are fortunate enough to be in a position to make donations, these are organizations helping put food on the table and meet other needs for your neighbors right here in Ward 6 and across the District:
Free groceries for residents: