Mayor’s Order Makes Masks Mandatory – “If you leave home, you must wear a mask.”
By Larry Janezich
July 22, 2020
Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she is issuing a new order making the wearing of masks mandatory if residents leave home. The exceptions are for those under 3, those engaged in active exercise, when eating or drinking, and for those alone in an enclosed office space. Enforcement language will be in the order. The announcement came at the Mayor’s 11:00am press briefing.
She said, “If you leave home, you must wear a mask…. If you’re waiting for a bus, if you’re ordering food, you must wear a mask.” The Mayor added, “We’re going to do everything we can – everybody is sick of the virus – were four months in – people are tired – people are letting down their guard.”
Asked if this was a signal that Phase II started too soon, the Mayor replied she didn’t think so, because the degree of response can be dialed up or down. She said the city would spend some time looking at the numbers and seeing what should be dialed back.
In response to a reporter’s question, she said police officers on duty are required to wear masks when they can’t social distance and residents should let the department know when police are not. That order has been in effect since May 15, and Chief Newsham will emphasize the requirement to the force.
Asked about the non-compliant behavior of staff and patrons in restaurants, Bowser said that restaurants can be reported for bad behavior by calling 202 442 4423, and that violations can result in $1000 fines on the spot. The regulations prohibit the use of hookas in DC.
The Mayor opened the briefing, noting that the upward tick in cases continues.
Dr. Nesbitt of the DDOH took over, noting the concern about the rise in cases among younger people.
- Prior to July 1, 41% of hospital cases were people under 40.
- Between July 1 and 20, 66% of hospital cases were people under 40.
- Since July 1 the percentage of hospitalization of people under 40 doubled from 16% to 29 %, compared to cases before July 1.
Asked why the number of cases was up while the number of deaths was down, Nesbitt cited the two week lag in reporting of cases and the shift of cases to a younger population which may result in a greater delay in hospitalizations and deaths.
Asked about why younger people are getting infected, Nesbitt said that interviews revealed risky behavior, such as travel to hot spots including youth sports events, vacations to Texas, Florida, the Carolinas and beaches on the Atlantic coast.
Other items that emerged during the briefing included:
- Long term care staff are beginning to test positive.
- The Police Reform Bill is on the Mayor’s desk, but she hasn’t decided to sign it yet.
- The Mayor will sign an order today extending the state of emergency which expires on Friday.
- Regarding the on-going gun violence, the Mayor pledged to use every tool the city has to address public safety, and said that “all hands on deck” from police to city officials to violence interrupters to ANC Commissioners need to focus on how to keep the neighborhoods safe.
Here’s the Mayor’s order on masks: https://bit.ly/3fVN61G