Let me start off this note by saying thank you. I know many, many Ward 6 residents are diligently following physical distancing guidelines and doing their part to stop the spread and flatten the curve. I know it's hard. We’re coming into the critical few weeks where our cases are going to be spiking. If physical or social distancing was super important last week, these next few weeks are critical! Stay inside as much as you can. Prevent. the. spread.
Remember, this is ultimately about saving lives by reducing the strain on our health care system. That’s why you can’t go play pick-up basketball or soccer or go over to a friend’s place. We have to slow the spread of a highly-contagious and deadly disease. We’ve already had at least three Ward 6 neighbors die from COVID-19 and many more have tested positive. Do this for your neighbors. And do this for our doctors and nurses, working on the frontlines.
Breaking News: The deadline to apply for relief as a small business or nonprofit through DC's Microgrant Program has been extended until noon TODAY. Here's the link: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/dc-small-business-recovery-grants
Below in this newsletter:
Stay At Home Order | DPR Closes All Facilities, Including Dog Parks | Do the Census Right Now | Vote By Mail in DC's June 2 Primary | Thursday Virtual Field Trip | Update on Free Meals and Groceries | Some Good News | Teachers Hit the Airwaves with Lessons | Info on Internet Providers | How to Volunteer | Ward 6 Porch Happy Hour
Mayor Issues Stay at Home Order: Effective beginning at 12:01 am earlier this morning, Mayor Bowser's Stay At Home Order is now in place. If you’ve been diligent about physical distancing, it won’t look or feel very different. You can read the full order here for guidance on what's permitted and what is not: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/stayhome
This is a tough, but necessary step. I wrote a longer tweet thread about what the changes are and why they're important, but copying key info here:
- What are the permitted reasons to leave home now? It’s the basics: permitted work, doctor, grocery, personal, socially-distanced exercise, fresh air, & a few others.
- Can you still go outside? Yes. Go for a walk, a jog, or a bike ride. But keep your distance. Group sports are a no-go right now. Remember, the whole point is to slow the spread of the disease. Skip your soccer game or basketball game for our health care workers.
- That also goes for gathering in large groups. I’ll just say this: Lincoln Park and The Wharf were WAY TOO CROWDED this weekend. I know the weather is nice & we love being together. Use common sense. Stay away from groups of people. Do it for the nurses.
- What about folks living in apartments? The guidance is clear. Don’t linger in common spaces, rooftops, or in front of the building where it's less likely to be disinfected. Go for a long walk in the neighborhood or to an (uncrowded) park instead.
- Can restaurants still do takeout/delivery? YES! The guidelines for businesses remain the same. Keep supporting your local business! It’s helping them get through this. Stand far away from other patrons if there’s a line. Be sensible when walking or jogging past a line.
- What about construction? Construction is permitted under the Mayor’s previous orders. Workers MUST practice social distancing as much as possible. DCRA is being alerted when we hear about that not happening.
- Are there penalties? Yes, but c’mon people. Don’t rely on law enforcement to make you adhere to common sense public health. This is about what a community values. DC values flattening the curve & protecting our health care providers.
Related: DPR is closing all of its remaining facilities, including dog parks, as part of the Stay at Home order. The reason is simple. We have to slow the spread of this disease right now.
Today is Census Day! Despite everything going on, the US still needs to conduct a census. And you can do it from the comfort of your home! This is a decennial effort to count everyone who lives in the United States. And it matters – a lot. Funding for many federal programs is based on population. So it is critical to have everyone counted.
So let's make this work. I challenge you, dear Ward 6 reader, to reach out to one other DC resident today and make sure they know how to do the Census. This will be really, really important for a lot of reasons for our community over the next decade. All the information is here:
Here’s the link to how to participate in the Census: https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html
But even if you lost the Unique ID mailer, you can complete the Census online, over the phone, or via mail without ever having to break physical distancing. The Census won’t affect receiving a stimulus check either.
The Census form only takes about 10 minutes or so to complete. Don't procrastinate - take care of it right now! And text a friend or neighbor and tell them!
Vote By Mail in the June 2 Primary: In order to still carry out our Primary Election, and still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, the Board of Elections announced a massive effort to get as many residents as possible to vote by mail last Friday. There will still be 20 Voting Centers and early voting fully observing social distancing guidelines while ensuring residents who can't vote absentee can still cast their ballot, but the strong preference is to get as many voters to cast a ballot via the mail. I fully support this and I'm asking for your help in getting your neighbors to follow the simple steps to get a ballot.
DC has always had what we call a "no excuse" absentee ballot policy - meaning you can vote absentee very easily. Because we are just over two months from voting day and even less for the early voting window, a larger Vote By Mail effort isn't feasible. But we can easily scale up the absentee ballot process to get as many people a ballot they can fill out at home as possible.
There are three ways to request a ballot. You can do it right now! The easiest way is to request a ballot via the Vote 4 DC App (available for free for IOS and Android, just search for "Vote 4 DC" in your App Store), or download this form and mail in or call (202) 727-2525 to request a form be mailed to you. Here's DC Board of Elections instructions.
The Board of Elections is in the process of finalizing the program, which should be released at the end of the week. The Board of Elections has already retained a firm to help with what will need to be a very thorough outreach campaign to reach the many DC residents who aren't plugged in online, including seniors, low-income families, and other residents.
Thursday Morning, Another Virtual Field Trip with Me! Two Thursdays in a row, we've a great time with students (and a few parents) asking me questions live on Facebook. So let's keep it going this week again. Same time and location: 10 am at my Facebook Page. This week's theme is: What is the most exciting thing about being home and on your block?
Update on Free Meals and Emergency Groceries: As a reminder, we have running list of free daily meals for students and seniors available on my website, as well as emergency groceries. Our community is rallying to help each other and new meals are being served and delivered. I believe it is the hard work and creativity of our community that will see us through this crisis. The DC Food Project has a very comprehensive listing of food resources across the District, including Ward 6.
If you know of another great resource, please reply to this email and let me know about it. There's so much good happening on the ground level it's hard to keep up!
Related: I'm happy to share AARP and DC Hero Chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen have launched a pilot program where restaurant kitchens are preparing hot meals that are then delivered to seniors around the city. My team and I worked with them to include a Ward 6 building in the pilot project and I'm happy to share 200 meals are delivered daily to seniors who don't have easy access to a meals site without leaving their building. This is exactly the kind of creativity and compassion that we're going to need neighbor to neighbor to get through this crisis. I'm looking forward to sharing more of these stories as we go along, but I wanted to make sure you realized there are good people doing good work each day.
30 Minute Lessons from Teachers on TV: DCPS is working on lots of ways to do distance learning, but special kudos also goes to the Washington Teacher's Union and our local news stations for airing 30 minute lessons to broadcast to students who might not have internet access or devices set up yet. Here's the schedule to catch the next lessons, which range for different grade levels each day.
Keeping the Internet on at Home: Both Comcast and Verizon, two of the larger companies providing internet services to District residents, have laid out steps they've taken during COVID-19's outbreak.
COMCAST – For the next 60 days:
- Halting disconnections and waiving late fees when customers contact them;
- Free WiFi hotspots available to anyone (including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers);
- Unlimited data at no extra charge;
- Internet Essentials (currently $9.95/mo. to low-income households) free to new customers;
- Increased speed for Internet Essentials customers;
- News, information and educational content for students at all grade levels on X1 and Flex;
- 24/7 network monitoring and support of network operations.
- Halting disconnections and waiving late fees for 60 days when customers contact them;
- Waiving FiOS broadband and voice service charges for residential Lifeline customers (most vulnerable population) for 60 days when customers contact them;
- Increasing wireless Hotspot data allowances at no cost;
- Offering free international calls; and
- Adding 15GB of high speed data for wireless consumers and small businesses customers;
- For District students and teachers, increasing data allowance at no cost to DCPS/Charter Verizon Innovative Learning Schools partners located in Ward 8, 7, 6 5, 4 and 1) to address hotspot usage for eLearning.
* Fios, 5G Home and DSL home broadband services and wireline business broadband services have no data caps.
Volunteer Organizations: There are a number of great mutual aid groups popping up around the Ward to assist neighbors who can't get out or need support. Table Church DC has a website for people who need help or want to volunteer, and here's a very thorough update. And here's a Ward 6 neighbor driven effort to nimbly meet needs for our neighbors - sign-up here to help out!
Ward 6 Porch Happy Hour: Every Friday at 5 pm, Ward 6 neighbors are stepping out onto their porch, balcony, stoop, or front door and taking a few minutes at the end of the week to get to know neighbors and stay connected. I've been so heartened to see so many neighbors and I hope we can take it citywide. Even though we're physically distancing, we can still stay in touch and build up our community. Take a photo and use #Ward6HH (last week we trended #1 in DC!). As a bonus, use it as an excuse to order something tasty from a local restaurant!