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CM Charles Allen Hosts Virtual Town Hall Meeting Last Night – The Virus Peak and Its Aftermath

Charles Allen hosts virtual Town Hall last night.

CM Charles Allen Hosts Virtual Town Hall Meeting Last Night – The Virus Peak and Its Aftermath

by Larry Janezich

Charles Allen held a virtual town hall meeting last night to engage Ward 6 residents on the unprecedented healthcare crisis afflicting the city.

Allen emphasized the importance of the stay-at-home order, reviewed the recent work of the city Council in passing two bills to address the crisis, and said there were more to come. The Council’s priorities are increasing access to unemployment insurance, providing funds to help small businesses, freezing rent increases for commercial and residential tenants, and effecting a 90 day deferral of mortgage payments with the intention that building owners will pass on the benefit to tenants in the form of rent deferral. Allen anticipates repayment plans of five years for mortgage deferrals and 18 months for renters. He said there would be a huge economic impact from the crisis and recovery would take several years.

Questions from Ward 6 residents elicited the following information:

  • The Peak and aftermath: Allen says we don’t know exactly when we’ll peak. The current model being used by the Mayor projects a peak based on how well or badly residents practice social distancing, the rate of testing, and the rate of increase of positive cases. As of now, the peak is estimated to hit in mid-June – early-July, but with new information coming in everyday, the model will fluctuate. Allen said, “Were in this for the long haul – not a couple of weeks but several months. When a vaccine is not going to be produced until March or April of 2021, were not going to be able to flip a switch and have things come back to normal. Some element of social distancing will have to stay in effect until there is mass production of vaccine.” He added, “When the Mayor announced the number of 93,000 infection over this year – which is about 10% to 15% of the DC population – that is not enough from a public health standpoint to provide herd immunity – that is, having enough people having exposure to either build up antibodies…. So, we’ll be concerned when we come out of the peak about whether we have to watch for another peak coming.” [Herd immunity occurs when so many people have antibodies that those who have not been infected are too few for the spread of the virus to be sustained.]
  • Racial disparity in the numbers of infection: Allen cited the high number of African-Americans who have tested positive and said that was rooted in a long time disparity and inequality that exists in housing, education, and healthcare. He noted the high maternal mortality in African-American mothers and said it was “because we have a broken health care system which allowed perpetuation of racial disparity to take place – layered discrimination in housing, employment, and education. These inequities have been allowed to exist for a long time, and that’s how it plays out.“ Allen said, “We have a lot of work to do not just here and now but in the entire city in all different aspects.”
  • The higher rate of infection in Ward 6: Allen cited two reasons, 1) there are 15,000 more people in Ward 6 than any other Ward, and 2) residents in Ward 6 on average have better access to health care, testing, and diagnosis than some other wards. Overall, he said, the percentage the population infected is in line with other wards.
  • Extension of school closure and social distancing/unessential business orders: Allen said it is reasonable to expect that the Mayor will extend the order on schools, social distancing, and unessential businesses until mid-June.
  • Recovery plan: There is no formal recovery plan yet and we are nowhere near the apex. DC is in a far better place that most cities and states. We’ll take a big hit. Sales tax revenue and income tax revenue are down and that will have an impact on the budget.

Other issues:

  • Elections: The city will aggressively promote a mail and ballot option – will mail out a request for to every registered voter, reach out online, and open 20 in-person sites for early voting.
  • Construction workers: Workers not following social distancing guidelines is a major concern of every councilmember. When we see it we contact DCRA inspectors.
  • Crime: The city is not seeing an increase in crime. Burglaries are down but homicides are on pace. Almost all homicides are conflict driven and occur between individuals who know each other.
  • Enforcement of social distancing: MPD has enforcement abilities regarding social distancing, but the city doesn’t want that to result in criminal consequences. The emphasis is on increasing awareness of public health and safety. In some social gathering hotspots, responders from the DPR Roving Leaders Program and the Violence Intervention Program are used as messengers to increase public awareness.
  • Closing of Streets: We should look at temporary closing of streets in residential blocks for public recreation. Ward 6 has dense and compact neighborhoods. Closing streets to add public space makes sense. The Mayor is concerned about unintended consequences [festivals] but Allen thinks we can do it.

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The Week Ahead…and Photos of Union Station Last Monday Afternoon

The Week Ahead…and Photos of Union Station Last Monday Afternoon

Thursday, April 9

The Week Ahead…

ANC 6A will conduct a Teleconference via WebEx  at 7:00pm. 

https://dcnet.webex.com/dcnet/j.php?MTID=m241d9d82f599fe4227a11fdd8e489352

NOTE: This meeting will be conducted virtually.  Call-in information appears below and under Community Calendar at anc6a.org.

Call-in Number: 202-860-2110

Meeting number (access code): 477 294 397

For those attending via WebEx: use this link:

https://dcnet.webex.com/dcnet/onstage/g.php?MTID=e80e517883d6e21c40f75f0a26a583b82

The agenda package has been posted to the ANC’s website at https://anc6a.org/wp-content/uploads/ANCP0420.pdf.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentation:  Jeff Marootian, Director, District Department of Transportation (DDOT)

Mozzeria Restaurant, 1300 H Street, SE, application for a new Retailer’s Class “C” liquor license.

Letter of support to encourage DGS/DCPS to select a field configuration for Eliot-Hine Middle School that reduces on-site parking in exchange for building athletic fields that allow for on-site hosting of sport activities.

Letter of support to DDOT for Councilmember Charles Allen’s proposal requesting COVID-19 related street closures to allow for safe use by pedestrians and cyclists.

 

NOTE:  Eastern Market Main Street created a Go Fund Me campaign to raise fund to help the small businesses of our Main Street.

Here is the link to the Go fund me page: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/emms-emergency-small-business-support-fund?utm_campaign=oc&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=crowdrise&fbclid=IwAR1dkTbmQTaR86nWAei518YvrrKvBrOBymea5vln7Tcuy1cHGN5zRLyIvSo

 

It was quiet in Union Station – almost eerie – circa 3:40pm, Monday, March 30.

 

In the Main Hall, the few passengers heading toward the exits avoided eye contact.

 

The clock on the wall struck a quarter to four.

 

There was one agent and no business at the ticket counter.

 

Sitting while waiting at the gates was discouraged…

 

…while outside,, taxis waited for customers who were slow to appear.

 

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Here’s a Short Capitol Hill Coronavirus Update for Some More Food and Retail Venues

Here’s a Capitol Hill Coronavirus Update for Some More Food and  Retail Venues

by Larry Janezich

Ginko Gardens reopened today.  They limit the number of customers inside the facility to nine.  Their online ordering for curbside pickup and for delivery service will continue – https://www.ginkgogardens.com/ Open Saturdays, 9:00am – 6:00pm; Sunday, 10:00am to 5:00pm; weekdays, 12:00pm to 7:00pm 

 

Frager’s is open Monday – Saturday, 8:00am – 7:00pm; Sunday, 9:00am – 6:00pm. They have a handy critical supply list of what’s in stock outside for you to look over while you’re waiting in line. They limit the number of people in the store at any one time. Click to enlarge. 

 

Carneles Deli in Eastern Market’s South Hall is closed until (at least) April 15….

 

… for most of the other South Hall merchants, though, you can order ahead and pickup.

 

Trader Joe’s has reserved the first hour from 8:00am until 9:00am for senior shoppers over 60 and for those who may need assistance.

 

and Mott’s Market at 233 12th Street, SE, is open 8:00am – 8:00pm, daily.

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District’s Model Projects 93,000 COVID-19 Infections in 2020 – And a Peak in June/July

Mayor Bowser and DC Government Officials Gave an Update on the City’s Response to the COVID-19 crisis this morning at DC Armory

Projected Infection Peak

 

District’s Model Projects 93,000 COVID-19 Infections in 2020 – Peak in June/July

by Larry Janezich

The model DC is using to estimate the number of COVID-19 infections in the city projects a total of 93,696 infections during the span of the pandemic in 2020, a peak of infection at the end of June or the beginning of July, and a range of deaths from 220 to 1000 plus.

DC is using the CHIME model for those projections because, Mayor Bowser said during a briefing at the DC Armory, it has a more realistic estimate of the amount of contact individuals will have with each other.  If the model’s projections bear out, DC will need 3000 acute care beds and 2800 ICU beds at the peak – a 125% increase from what is currently available.  3/4 of the needed projected increase has been accounted for under current plans by increasing inside and outside capacity of existing health care facilities.  For the rest, the city is looking at adding capacity in other venues, such as the armory and hotels, but no decision has been made.

Councilmember Charles Allen pointed to a critical gap in the social distancing mitigation, asking the Mayor about what she could do to enforce social distancing in grocery stores.  One of the most worrisome aspects of shopping is for the safety of unmasked checkout clerks during interaction with hundreds of customers as shoppers check out.  Councilmember Gray asked if the city could provide protective gear for the store workers.  Bowser said the city was in discussions with store management and labor to see what the city can do with respect to social distancing.  She also said that she would discuss Gray’s concerns, but noted that the city currently is struggling to provide protective equipment for its first responders and health care personnel.

Other points made during the briefing:

  • The city has started posting the number of positive cases by Ward here: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/page/coronavirus-data There are currently 128 positive cases in Ward 6, an increase of 16 over yesterday. Bowser said there was nothing remarkable about the disparity between the number cases in the 8 Wards.
  • Today is the first day of the drive-through virus test facility at the United Medical Center. A doctor’s referral is necessary.

ANC6B Commissioner and City Council candidate Chander Jayaraman attended the briefing and later told Capitol Hill Corner: “I was impressed with Mayor Bowser and the competent team she has assembled to deal with the expected surge.  I feel confident she is utilizing the right data=driven approach to project what the city will need in terms of medical services and assets to deal with this crisis.”

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The Alibi Ups Its Game – Raw/Prepared Meals, Alcohol & Local Groceries for Pick Up/Delivery

The Alibi – a British American Pub

The Alibi Ups Its Game – Raw/Prepared Meals, Alcohol & Local Groceries for Pick Up/Delivery

By Larry Janezich

The hard-to-find Alibi, a British American Pub, lies hidden away at 237 2nd Street, NW.  In light of the restaurant shutdown, the pub has upped its game, offering raw meals, prepped meals, alcohol and local groceries, available for pick up or free delivery within two miles.

Check out their website, here: https://thealibidc.com/washington-capitol-hill-the-alibi-food-menu

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Unprecedented Citywide ANC Virtual Discussion Provides COVID-19 Pipeline to Mayor, Council

Unprecedented Citywide ANC Virtual Discussion Provides COVID-19 Pipeline to Mayor, Council

by Larry Janezich

A new initiative in the form of virtual conferencing for all ANC commissioners citywide provides a forum for comment feedback to city officials on the city’s response to COVID-19.

The unprecedented virtual conference is the brainchild of former Chair and current Vice Chair of ANC6B, and current City Council a Large candidate, Chander Jayaraman.  The first of the meetings – hosted by Jayaraman and current ANC6B Chair Brian Ready occurred March 25.  Fifty ANC Commissioners from across the city participated on the Zoom platform.

That meeting’s theme was “Keeping Communities Strong in the Face of COVID-19”.  Jayaraman, who has nearly two decades of experience in emergency response management, presented key tips that could be used to help keep neighborhoods and local businesses strong during the crisis. Then followed a general discussion to share concerns and strategies for the ANCs to provide support for their communities.

The result of the first meeting was a memo which was forwarded to the Mayor and to members of the Council last Friday.  Some of the requests and needs raised in the memo included:

A request for daily updates on numbers of COVID-19 cases confirmed by Ward and the current rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations. (Subsequently, this morning, the Mayor announced Ward data would be included in daily updates.)

Temporary relief from quarterly sales tax and property tax for small businesses.

Relief for small business owners who pay themselves out of business revenues, but are currently ineligible for unemployment benefits.

A need to address residents’ concerns about the potential for spread of COVID-19 among construction workers and to clarify what guidance has been given private contractors.  (DGS has issued COVID-19 Guidelines for Construction Sites but concerns remain regarding how they will be enforced and to what degree they will be adhered to.)

Immediate relief for the child care community to avoid permanent closures.

Support to establish and coordinate more food banks.

The memo also named some strategies communities are taking including creation of neighbor check-ins for the most vulnerable residents, development of food collection and preparation efforts, creation of neighborhood volunteer networks, and mutual aid groups to help neighbors.

After submitting the memo to the city officials, Jayaraman said he heard from two council members.  CM Charles Allen said he was looking forward to reading the memo, and CM Robert White expressed a desire to be involved in the next meeting. Jayaraman invited him to open up a second virtual conversation which occurred last night.

According to Jayaraman, White reviewed the memo produced by the first meeting, acknowledging specifically the concerns about construction workers.  He also said deferring property taxes was not an option given the city’s need to pay its own bills in April, and that the city would consider continued relief for small businesses.  The city has received 4,000 requests for the $25,000 grants afforded under the $25 million fund established by the city council, a number that if equally proportioned would provide only $6500 to each.  He said he would consider a concern of co-host Brian Ready regarding the set of people – recent hires, small business owners, and others – who are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Jayaraman said a theme common to both meetings was the risk posed by lack of virus protection standards for construction workers as work on projects continues unabated.  With hundreds of large sites he doubts that DCRA inspectors will be able to monitor conditions on work sites.  He noted that NYC halted all non-critical construction, excluding hospitals and low-income housing.

Ready, Chair of ANC6B, credited Jayaraman’s outreach effort, saying the virtual meeting is “a forum for all commissioners across the city to discuss the challenges and concerns they are having. The things they’ve seen give us a better understanding of what the landscape is like for parts of the city.”

Jayaraman said, that the virus has been a unifying force for the city and the virtual meetings show how the amplified unified structure of the ANC can be a voice for the communities.  He sees an opportunity for the city’s Office of ANCs to set up a structure to tap into the ANCs’ opinion on major issues in the future.  The general consensus, he said, is that the meetings are helpful and should continue weekly throughout the crisis.  He says he is considering other ways to add value to the meetings such as inviting city officials to present, and suggested a presentation on the impact of the virus on the homeless, for example.  The next meeting will be Monday April 6 at 8:00pm, where one of the questions to be decided is whether to let the press listen in on the meetings.

Jayaraman said, “The virtual meeting is a great opportunity to bring together elected officials closest to the community to express concerns and discuss what’s working and to share that with our leaders as we move forward together through this crisis.”

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(In Lieu of) The Week Ahead…Some Images from the Week Past

(In Lieu of) The Week Ahead…Some Images from the Week Past

by Larry Janezich

On Tuesday afternoon, work continued on the Murillo/Malnati Development Group’s four story 45 unit apartment building at 818 Potomac Avenue, Southeast. The project will overlook the Virginia Avenue Community Garden across the street to the east.

Here’s a rendering of how it will look when finished, looking northwest.  See here: http://bit.ly/2tUtE0f

 

Over at 2nd and North Carolina Avenue,, residents have taken matters into their own hands to help out the DDOT in repainting crosswalks. There are three schools nearby. (Click to enlarge)

 

Late Friday afternoon, after the House had passed th $2 trillion stimulus bill that morning, CNN cc congressional correspondent Manu Raju was still filing reports.

 

…and on the Senate side, FOX News ‘ Chad Pergram continued the network’s post action coverage.

 

Sunday afternoon about 4:00pm, there was breathing room at Eastern Market…

 

…and a line waiting to get into Trader Joe’s.

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ANC6B Commissioner Kasie Clark Resigns

ANC6B Commissioner Kasie Clark, at the February meeting of ANC6B, which she announced would be her last meeting.

ANC6B Commissioner Kasie Clark Resigns

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B09 Commissioner Kasie Clark has resigned as the representative of single member district, ANC6B09. Yesterday’s District of Columbia Register posted a notice from the Board of Elections certifying the vacancy.  Clark had made it known in February she would resign in March owing to her relocation out of the District.  Her Single Member District (SMD 6B09) abuts part of Reservation 13 to the east and includes half of Barney Circle, the old Boys and Girls Club – currently under development, and Congressional Cemetery.  Clark was elected in 2018, for the two year term ending January 1, 2021.

Clark, is currently a program Director at College to Congress – a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a more diverse and effective Congress by financially supporting full time Congressional interns with members of Congress.

A major concern of the 6B09 will be the redevelopment of Barney Circle, currently being planned by the District Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.  Other issues include the development of Reservation 13, https://bit.ly/2UJ11Pp the first phase of which is now under construction, discussion and community input on the future of DC Jail, and the problems associated with the high volume of commuter traffic through the community.  The on-going struggle with pop-ups – which are tolerated outside of the Historic District, often over the objections of neighbors, will likely heat up as the city looks for ways to increase density to address the lack of affordable housing. In 2010, ANC opposition quashed a bid to establish a Barney Circle Historic District, but as of now, there is nothing indicating an attempt to revive that effort.  The SMD has a few commercial establishments on 15th Street, but is free from the headaches sometimes brought to the ANC by liquor licenses.

The usual procedure for filling the seat once declared vacant is by special election at a time and place determined by the ANC.  Candidates must submit a qualifying petition signed by 25 6B09 SMD residents to the Board of Elections.  If only one qualified candidate emerges, the usual procedure is for the ANC to declare that candidate the new commissioner. Capitol Hill Corner will post the details as they become available.

A map of ANC6B is below showing the boundaries of Single Member District 6B09.

ANC6B – Click to enlarge

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National Park Service Mistakenly Closes Lincoln Park, Setting Off Comedy of Errors

National Park Service Mistakenly Closes Lincoln Park, Setting Off Comedy of Errors

by Larry Janezich

Mid-day on Friday, a photo circulated (by the editor of CHC and others) on Capitol Hill listservs showed a sign of an official sign posted at Lincoln Park alerting residents that:  “Lincoln Park is Closed.  As a public precaution, Lincoln Park is temporarily closed for the safety of staff and visitors.  Updates will be posted to the Park website….

That set off a comedy of errors which took much of the day to get resolved, and then, without apology from the Park Service, or acknowledgement that it had been their fault.

A visit to the Park Service website told a different story than the one on the sign:  “Playgrounds are Temporarily Closed as of March 26th, 2020.  Following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and local public health officials in consultation with NPS Public Health Service officers, Lincoln Park, Stanton Park, Marion Park, and Maryland Ave Playgrounds are temporarily closed.”

However, actions by police seemed to be more in keeping with a park closure.  According to one poster on the Lincoln Park listserv, “Those signs were placed in the general area, by the Lincoln statue, not the playground, after the police made people disperse prior to dusk, about 5:30 p.m.”

At 2:53pm, First District Commander Morgan Kane, who had been asked to help clarify the status of the park, notified the Lincoln Park listserv that “The parks are closed.  I just verified with US Park Police that the parks are closed and no one should be inside using them.  Officers from U.S. Park  Police and MPD will monitor and advise folks to leave the park and practice all the recommendations from the CDC and your local district government leaders in accordance with the Mayor’s Order 2020-053 and National Park Service Record of Determination.  We all are asked to play our important role in flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections.”

At 4:14pm, Kane came back to the Lincoln Park listserv with an update:  “US Park Police just called to notify me that they accidentally closed the entire park versus just closing the playground.  US Park Police will still come through the parks to ensure compliance with their NPS Record of Determination as well social distancing asks.  Please continue to work with us to flatten the curve!!!  MPD will continue to remind you as well.”

ANC6B Commissioner Steve Holtzman reached out to the National Park Service for an explanation.  Robert R. Arzola, Acting Program Management Specialist, Office of the Superintendent replied:

“I am writing regarding questions related to National Park Service signage at Lincoln Park. On Saturday, March 21 the Lincoln Park playground was closed as a public health precaution. Following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and local public health in consultation with NPS Public Health Service officers, the playgrounds at Lincoln Park, Stanton Park, Marion Park, and Maryland Ave are temporarily closed. Lincoln Park and the other parks are open.”

By late afternoon on Friday, Lincoln Park was filled with residents enjoying the spring weather.

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Trader Joe’s Expands Store Access for Seniors over 60

Trader Joe’s Expands Store Access for Seniors over 60

By Larry Janezich

Our local Trader Joe’s at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, has instituted a new procedure as of this morning, March 23, that provides for additional access for senior shopping between 9:00am and 10:00am.  The new practice applies nationwide.

Crew members have been directed by corporate headquarters to establish a line for senior shoppers, separate from a line for other shoppers.  Seniors will be admitted preferentially – three from their line to one from the other – during the first hour.  Store hours will remain 9:00am – 7:00pm.

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