Starting today, the Mayor has declared the District will enter Phase 2 of Re-Opening. There are a lot of big changes in store, and I'll run through a few that are likely to affect many of us.
But I want to first emphasize that what has gotten us to this point is the tough steps we've taken to contain the spread of the virus. That means wearing a mask when you are around others -- indoors and outdoors. It means washing your hands (a lot) and limiting in-person contact, especially indoors. We should feel good that unlike many other jurisdictions in the United States, we are adhering to smart public health recommendations and it's working to decrease the number of new infections.
Phase Two Re-Opening Overview: You can find greater detail on all the reopening guidelines here -- https://coronavirus.dc.gov/phasetwo
Restaurants: Starting Monday, restaurants can serve at 50-percent capacity indoors, as long as tables are at least six feet apart. Restaurants can continue to do carryout service as well. Staff must wear a mask and PPE, guests should be wearing a mask when not eating or drinking. This is one I want to urge caution on. I, too, really miss a simple night out for dinner. And I really want to get our service industry folks back to work. But remember that the guidance is also a recommendation for limiting sustained exposure to shorter amounts of time. Duration and eating can increase the risk of viral spread, particularly indoors. So if you go out to eat at a restaurant, be extra careful to wear a mask when not eating or drinking, limit your stay, and ensure you are getting as much space from other tables as possible. And be sure you tip generously, recognizing that restaurants are doing the very best they can in a difficult situation. Learn more here.
Places of Worship: Starting Monday, places of worship can re-open, at a maximum of 50-percent capacity. Groups or families attending must not exceed 10 people and groups should remain six feet away from other attendees. Distancing markings are strongly encouraged indoors and outdoors. These rules apply to not only worship services, but other events held at a place of worship. This is another area where I have seen the experts urge a lot of caution. The spread we have found is most likely through air droplets, which result from talking and singing (the Mayor's order notes choir performances are strongly discouraged during Phase 2). I know the important role our places of worship play in our community, so I just want to urge an extra sense of caution should you decide to attend in person. Many religious communities will continue to offer online services and events -- please consider those options if you are in a high-risk group. Learn more here.
Museums, Libraries, and Exhibits: These important cultural and community spaces are able to return open while operating with strict social distancing and capacity limits. Learn more here.
Playgrounds: Playgrounds are back open with strong cautions around washing hands before and after, maintaining social distancing from other families, and wearing face coverings. Again, I urge caution here. If you have kids and they're anything like mine, all the efforts to remind them about distancing seems to go out of mind when they're having a blast playing and suddenly see a friend they've been missing for weeks and months. Learn more here.
Condominiums, Apartments, Cooperatives: Common rooms, lobbies, and rooftops may re-open, including pools (with restrictions). Building management should be maintaining regular cleaning and providing hand sanitizer for residents. Shared amenities such as gyms need to follow gym guidance. Learn more here.
Childcare Centers: Childcare centers are also cleared to return to operation, with no more than 10 people (caregivers and children) in one room. For centers with a large room, partitions at least six feet tall must be constructed and children must be kept six feet from each side of the partitions. Learn more here.
There are a whole list of guidance and changes that come with Phase Two. Review them here: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/phasetwo
Free COVID-19 testing for anyone: Beginning this week, the District now offers a number of daily testing sites where anyone can receive a test, regardless of symptoms and without needing a referral. A daily testing location downtown on F Street, NW between 4th and 5th Streets, NW offers testing Monday - Friday, from 10 am to 2 pm.
Starting yesterday, the District launched ongoing daily testing at different firehouses around the city. Here's the schedule (these locations are subject to weather-related closure, check DC Health Twitter before you go if the forecast is dicey):
- Engine 4 (2531 Sherman Ave. NW)
- Engine 11 (3420 14th St. NW)
- Engine 24 (5101 Georgia Ave. NW)
- Engine 31 (4930 Connecticut Ave. NW)
Thursday and Friday: 4-8 pm, Saturday: 12-4 pm
- Engine 8 (1520 C St. SE)
- Engine 10 (1342 Florida Ave. NE)
- Engine 30 (50 49th St. NE)
- Engine 33 (101 Atlantic St. SE)
On https://coronavirus.dc.gov/testing, there are a number of testing locations throughout the District. The majority of them are prioritizing testing for specific groups, however the District is steadily expanding testing for anyone.
Antibody Testing Now Taking Place in Navy Yard/ Capitol Riverfront: The District also started offering scheduled antibody testing for District residents ages 6 and up as another way to track community spread with a site in Canal Park open to all DC residents. You need to make an appointment before heading over there, however. Learn more here.
Contact Tracing: A critical part of any safe and successful re-opening of our city that still minimizes the spread of COVID-19 is a robust contact tracing program. This is exactly what it sounds like -- a team of people who work backwards from a positive case to trace and contain possible spread by alerting others who may have been exposed. If you get tested and have a positive result, please, please work with the contact tracing team that reaches out so we can identify and head off hot spots. And, keep in mind, contact tracers will never 1) ask your immigration status, 2) ask for your social security number, or 3) ask for any payment or financial information.
Free Student/Kid Meal Sites As Of June 1: Click here to see the updated list of school meals being provided over the summer here. As the city transitions to the summer meal program, many new Rec Center feeding sites have been added. Use this handy mapping tool to find the site nearest you.
If Your Child Receives a Free School Meal, There's Extra Help For You: During the pandemic, families with one or more children receiving free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program, you can sign-up here for extra support with food during the pandemic. Learn more and enroll with DC's Department of Human Services, and share this information in your neighborhood.
Extra Rental Assistance Available: If you are behind in your rent, there might be support available. Additional funding from the federal government will be available to assist District residents. More information here.
US House of Representatives Set for Historic Vote on DC Statehood: This Friday, June 26, the US House of Representatives will vote on HR 51, which would make the District of Columbia the 51st US state! This is a historic moment as it could be the first time a DC Statehood bill passes a chamber of congress. More from Washington Post ahead of Friday's big vote. Here's a photo from last year's hearing on the bill in committee.
Metro Announces Summer Rail Stations Shutdowns for Repair Work: Over the summer, while trying to take advantage of low ridership, WMATA announced a series of closures to do capital projects at these stations. Here's the full list, which includes:
- June 28-July 2 – Mt Vernon to U St
- Closed Station: Shaw-Howard
- July 6-July 18 – U St to Ft. Totten
- Closed Stations: Columbia Heights and Georgia Ave
- July 19-July 25 – Judiciary Sq to Rhode Island
- Closed Station: Union Station and NoMa
- July 26-August 1 – Ft. Totten to Silver Spring
- Closed Station: Takoma
Here's Who To Support Financially or By Volunteering: At this point, we've been living physical distancing for more than 100 days. The initial burn to do something may have faded, but these organizations are still doing great work to help our neighbors and they're worth your support. 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:
- Table Church DC (via Ward 6 neighbors): Started by Ward 6 neighbor Allison McGill, this is a great effort pairing volunteers with residents who need help with a range of needs, including just someone to run to the store for them.
- Ward 6 Mutual Aid Network: Started by Ward 6 neighbor Maurice Cook and Serve Your City, this is a group collecting and redistributing food and other essential items for neighbors.
- World Central Kitchen: Chef José Andres' nonprofit kitchen has set up shop at Nationals Park and has been serving up hundreds of meals to Ward 6 seniors. If you can chip in to keep their work going, know it is helping your neighbors.
- DC Medical Reserve Corps: Organized by the DC Government, here's a way to help out as our medical response scales up.
- DC Public Schools: In need of volunteers to help keep running their many meal sites for kids in DC during school closures! Please fill out the linked survey.
- Capital Area Food Bank: In critical need of volunteers to help sort and pack food in their warehouse and assist at their offsite food distributions
- Food and Friends DC: In urgent need of extra volunteers throughout the coming weeks. There are two volunteer opportunities, food preparation and packaging and meal and grocery delivery
- Food Rescue US: Volunteers with vehicles needed to pick up and deliver food from businesses to DC residents in need
- Grace’s Table: Looking for volunteers to help feed the homeless each Saturday
- Martha’s Table: Volunteers needed to help prepare and bag food for their emergency food sites across the city
- We Are Family: Volunteer to deliver groceries to seniors.
- Food for All DC: Volunteer to drive groceries to seniors, immunocompromised, and other DC neighbors who are homebound. Volunteer here.
- Aunt Bertha: Aunt Bertha’s network connects people seeking help and verified social care providers that serve them by zip code. Contact your local shelter to see what help and/or items may be needed
- Greater DC Diaper Bank: Long a staple of the region (and founded by a Ward 6er), the Greater DC Diaper Bank helps low-income families meet the need for diapers. DC Diaper Bank works with partner sites to distribute diapers. You can donate or support their work here: https://greaterdcdiaperbank.org/give-dollars/
Free groceries for residents:
- Ten DC School Sites Distributing Free Groceries Each Week: I mentioned this above, but sharing here as well. Ten DCPS meal locations are now distributing groceries as well as student meals. Every Monday is Eastern High School's day to distribute in Ward.
- Martha's Table: Daily grocery distribution at 2nd and H Street, from 5:15-5:45 pm. Donate here to support their work: https://marthastable.networkforgood.com/projects/95536-martha-s-table-martha-s-table-expanded-programs-covid-19
- Capital Area Food Bank: Behind many good nonprofits is the CAFB, supplying many groceries from bulk purchasing to food pantries across the region. Help them today: https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/donate/
Father McKenna Center Grocery Pantry Now Open: One of the programs partnering with the Capital Area Food Bank is the Father McKenna Center at 900 North Capitol St., NW. Information on how to support or receive groceries here.
H Street Food Drive for Ward 5-6 Neighbors: Contactless food/groceries available for neighbors who need some extra assistance. They also offer contactless food delivery for anyone in the area that needs it, especially elderly, single parents, those with special needs. Drop off or Send Non-Perishable Food Deliveries To: @maketto1351 | Attention: H ST. NE FOOD DRIVE | 1351 H ST. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Send all monetary donations To: PayPal: PayPal.me/CHRiSCARDi | Venmo: @ChrisCardi
Pick up at Maketto: 1351 H Street, NE
Monday – Saturday: 7:30am – 9:30pm
Sunday: 7:30am -5pm
- If in need of delivery assistance text 202-681-3532
- Pick up at Maketto: 1351 H Street, NE