Bowser reinstates indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases rebound

Media Credit: File Photo by Dean Whitelaw

Bowser's order marks a reversal of her earlier rollback of restrictions when she lifted the previous mask mandate in response to cases dropping earlier this spring.

Updated: July 30, 2021 at 2:45 p.m.

Mayor Muriel Bowser restored the District’s citywide mask mandate Thursday, announcing an order that will control mask wearing requirements across campus buildings, going into effect Saturday.

The order states that anyone over the age of two will be required to wear a mask indoors in D.C. no matter their COVID-19 vaccination status due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases as the nationwide spread of the Delta variant intensifies in the District. The announcement comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines recommending indoor mask wearing in D.C., which has a “substantial” level of community transmission, according to the CDC’s data tracker.

The recent CDC guidelines also recommend that students and faculty – even those who are fully vaccinated – should wear masks in schools.

Bowser’s order and the CDC’s recent recommendations are both reversals of restriction rollbacks from May, when the city lifted its mask mandate and the CDC announced that vaccinated individuals could go indoors without any face coverings. The University subsequently reinstated its indoor mask mandate Friday after having pulled back its requirement in campus buildings for vaccinated individuals last month as cases continued to drop.

Since then, the COVID-19 Delta variant has altered the course of the pandemic, fueling more transmission across the country and the world and inflating daily positive tests.

The District reported 108 new cases Wednesday and 187 Monday – the highest daily case rate since mid-April, according to COVID-19 data from The New York Times. D.C. health director LaQuandra Nesbitt said the city’s daily COVID-19 case rate has increased five-fold in July, noting spikes among children ages five to 14 and young adults ages 20 to 34.

GW’s on-campus cohort lasted more than two months without any new cases since late May, but officials have recorded nine positive tests since July 8, according to GW’s COVID-19 testing dashboard.

Editor’s Note:
This post has been updated to note that GW reinstated its indoor mask mandate the day after the District.

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