Mayor Bowser’s COVID Briefing – Events over 5 people and Travel Cited as COVID Drivers
by Larry Janezich
Mayor Bowser held a COVID-19 Situational Briefing this morning and Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt reported on a recent analysis of contact tracing regarding 971 positive cases reported between July 31 and August 13.
The analysis revealed the characteristics of cases connected to attendance of “large events” with five or more people.
145 of the 971 cases (15%) reported attending a large event during their exposure. Types of large events included gatherings of places of worship, cookouts, parties, meetings, etc. Over 60% of cases indicated that some part of the event occurred indoors. The majority of people attending large events indicated that social distancing was not observed at some point during the event (62%) or they were unsure (5%).
Also, the study revealed the characteristics of cases connected to travel.
102 of the 971 cases (10.5%) reported traveling by at least one travel mode during their exposure. Some travelers used more than one mode of travel.
Plane – 71.1%
Rideshare – 33.3%
Public transportation – 6.7%
Shared van/shuttle – 8.9%
Train/commuter rail – 4.4%
Another thing contact tracers looked at was the extent of community spread – cases without known contact to someone who was diagnosed with COVID.
Of the 971 cases, 711 cases answered the question about whether they had contact with a person diagnosed with Covid 19 during the exposure period.
36% said yes – 51% said no – 2% were unsure, meaning a majority of the cases were not directly connected to someone with the virus, indicating a high rate of community spread.
Asked if there was a percentage of cases attributable to one sector – business or activity – that would trigger walking back the Phase II opening, Nesbitt said they were not looking for a specific percentage that would trigger additional “non-pharmaceutical interventions”. Instead they look for proportional contributions – when any sector becomes a dominant contributor – then will look at scaling back. She said she’s frequently asked when she would recommend halting indoor dining, and said that indoor dining is a high risk, but most cases are coming from the workplace, travel and social events. Mayor Bowser said that some cases have a number of contributing factors and urged residents not to get complacent.
Asked about today’s beginning of the two-week Restaurant Week, Nesbitt says she prefers Restaurant Week diners dine outdoors
Other points made during the briefing:
- The Mayor said she wanted polling places in all 144 precincts open for the November election, and will approach the Board of Elections with a proposal to use DC government volunteers to staff polling places. She is concerned about “unprecedented voter suppression” and will meet with the Board of Elections, the City Council Chair, and the oversight committee chair Charles Allen to make sure voters have as many options as possible.
- The Rev. Al Sharpton’s march in DC next week has been “reimagined” and is not a march, but a seated event outside with limited access, ticketing, and speakers from a stage. People will be discouraged from standing and will be checked going into the event.
- Bowser said she learned of former City Administrator Rashad Young’s pursuit of a job with Howard University on July 31, and they agreed it was time to draw a bright line between old and new job. Young resigned suddenly last Friday. A report the Mayor requested from DC Board of Ethics and Government Accountability will be made public. Several months agod, Young negotiated some $300 million in tax breaks and public funding for construction of Howard University’s new hospital.