As Washington, DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser grappled with the riot that had struck the Capitol last week, another crisis slowly developed in the district: a spate of coronavirus cases.
Washington recorded an average of 290 new coronavirus cases per day for the past week, the highest number for any seven-day period of the pandemic. The rest of the mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, is also on the rise, with all three states keeping weekly case records on Sundays.
At a press conference on Monday, Ms. Bowser urged residents to be vigilant about the virus, noting that the district’s hospitals are being weighed down by coronavirus patients and that the rate of positive virus test results is worryingly high.
“We are still concerned – like the rest of the country – about the increase in cases,” said the mayor.
As of Monday, Ms. Bowser said, any resident who is 65 years of age or older can make an appointment to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. The guideline follows those of a number of states that have lowered the age threshold of 75, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended setting it for early rounds of vaccination.
After rising last spring, Washington managed to keep its case numbers relatively low in the summer and fall. At the beginning of October, the district was seeing an average of less than 40 new cases a day.
But the situation has steadily deteriorated since then. The number of cases rose sharply over a period of two months and peaked in early December. Although the number of cases decreased somewhat in the days leading up to Christmas, those advances were reversed in the first few days of 2021.
It’s too early to know if last week’s influx of protesters and the deadly Capitol rampage on Wednesday sparked a spike in coronavirus infections, either in Washington or in the home states of those entering the city streamed.
A lawmaker who has since tested positive, New Jersey’s Bonnie Watson Coleman, said Monday she believed she was exposed while seeking refuge in a Capitol room with fellow lawmakers who ignored instructions on how to wear masks.