D.C. Health recommends indoor masking as Bowser refrains from reinstating mandate

Media Credit: File Photo by Ari Golub

Bowser dropped a blanket indoor mask mandate for the District last month, but city officials said the health department's advisory will make their guidance more clear.

The D.C. Health Department recommended Thursday that all people wear masks in public indoor settings in the District.

Mayor Muriel Bowser refrained from reinstating a blanket indoor mask requirement she dropped last month, but she said in a presentation that the “advisory” her health department issued would make their guidance clear to the public. The announcement comes as fears surge over the new omicron variant, with the first case of the variant in the United States identified Wednesday.

D.C.’s COVID-19 case rate has remained at “substantial” transmission levels or higher, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since Bowser reinstated a mask mandate in July. The CDC recommends indoor masking at those levels.

After Bowser announced that the District’s mask mandate would be dropped at the end of last month, University officials said that GW would continue to mandate indoor masking “until further notice.”

“This is consistent with our previous statements to folks around how to follow our metrics and how to follow our guidance,” D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said.

The District’s mandate has remained in effect in certain congregate indoor settings, like residence halls, schools, public transportation and nursing homes.

“The medical and scientific community is following its protocols when it comes to variants of concern and the federal government, and the District government are making sure that we can continue to respond if we see an increase in cases,” Bowser said.

Bowser also announced that starting Monday, District families can schedule appointments for at-home vaccinations for children between the ages of 5 and 11, and older family members will also be able to receive shots simultaneously, including booster doses.

Bowser also called on the D.C. Council to restore emergency procurement powers, which would grant her office more authority over purchases to respond to the pandemic.

“I am asking the council to restore the authority so we don’t lose any time in procuring those supplies,” Bowser said.

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