Newsletter: COVID-19 Updates

Dear Resident, 

This morning, Mayor Bowser announced more proactive measures for D.C. government to help our community contain the spread of COVID-19, the novel strain of coronavirus. These are hard decisions, and I agree with the mayor’s actions. They are necessary to keep our city healthy.

D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) will close its buildings to students through March 31, move up its spring break to next week, and engage in distance learning during the second closure week. D.C. government will continue essential services like trash pickup, though some agencies whose employees can work remotely will move to telework. Recreation centers and D.C. public libraries will also be closed starting Monday through March 31. You can keep up with the latest news at coronavirus.dc.gov.

Many D.C. public charter schools are making similar decisions. Here is the DCPS schedule starting Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, March 31:

  • Monday, March 16: Teachers and staff will report to school to plan for distance learning. No school for students.
  • Tuesday, March 17 to Monday, March 23: DCPS will take its Spring Break for students and teachers. There will no longer be a Spring Break period in April.
  • Tuesday, March 24 to Tuesday, March 31: Students will participate in distance learning.
  • Wednesday, April 1: As of now, schools will resume operations.

Due to the DCPS schedule change, free meals will be available to all students (DCPS and charter schools) on weekdays from Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, March 31 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. They will be prepared, packed meals. The following sites have been announced:

You can continue to follow updates from D.C. Public Schools at dcps.dc.gov/coronavirus and from D.C. Public Charter Schools at dcpcsb.org/school-closings-coronavirus-concerns.

 

What COVID-19 Means for the Budget Process and Council Operations

Earlier this week, the D.C. Council began preparing for the possibility that all staff, including members, will need to work from home. Additional steps have been taken to allow for virtual meetings to conduct official business.

Transmittal of the Mayor's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021, which was due to be sent to the Council next week, will be postponed for at least several weeks. This means that the Council will postpone all budget hearings and circulate a new hearing schedule once a new transmittal date is set. Even with these changes, we will still be able to pass a budget for the District in time for the next fiscal year.

Additionally, this Tuesday, my colleagues and I will vote on emergency legislation to help residents, workers, and businesses as we deal with this public health emergency. A draft of the legislation was circulated yesterday, and it will continue to be refined through the weekend up to Tuesday. Here are some of the emergency measures being considered:

  • Expansion of unemployment insurance to provide wage replacement to District workers who face layoffs due to containment practices such as self- quarantine or economic slowdown
  • Financial relief to businesses affected by the public health emergency through a grant program
  • Consumer protections for residents including prohibiting utility shutoffs and evictions
  • Extension of time on April 15 tax deadline

You can read a draft of the Council’s COVID-19 response legislation here.

As we implement social distancing and other best practices to contain the virus, it will have a large impact on our city’s economy. Among the first to feel this are our hotels and restaurants, a big industry in our city. As the chair of the Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, I am focused on how we can help keep our city’s businesses and workers financially stable. My committee has been working collaboratively with the administration, the Department of Employment Services, Chairman Mendelson and our Council colleagues to make sure that we extend whatever assistance we can at this time.

 

How to Reach Me and My Staff

My staff and I will continue to be accessible by phone and email while the Council enforces a telework policy. You can call my personal office at (202) 724-7772 and my Committee on Labor and Workforce Development at (202) 724-4902. We can most easily be reached by email at the addresses below:

  Elissa Silverman   At-Large Councilmember   esilverman@dccouncil.us
  Sam Rosen-Amy   Chief of Staff   srosenamy@dccouncil.us
  Ashley Fox   Deputy Chief of Staff   afox@dccouncil.us
  Pat Joseph   Constituent Services Director   pjoseph@dccouncil.us

  Charnisa Royster

  Scheduler/Committee Clerk

  croyster@dccouncil.us

  Liz Weiss

  Labor Committee Director

  lweiss@dccouncil.us

  Margaret O'Hora

  Legislative Advisor

  mohora@dccouncil.us

  Richard Grant

  Legislative Analyst

  rgrant@dccouncil.us

 

Where You Can Find DC-Specific COVID-19 Info

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others is take additional precautions if you don’t feel well. Every District worker has the right to paid sick days. Use them! Guidance on how many days employees are guaranteed is available on the Department of Employment Services’ website here. 

paid-leave-graphic-v2.png

D.C. Health is regularly sending health notices to the city's health providers with virus info and updated guidelines for testing. Those notices are available publicly here. All information about the District’s response to COVID-19 and how to protect yourself is available at coronavirus.dc.gov. If you are not already registered, get real-time emergency alerts and updates by signing up for AlertDC

Links to specific COVID-19 toolkits are here:

Links to school alerts as well as running lists of facility and event closures across the District are here: 

My at-large colleague David Grosso has also made a list of Twitter accounts that includes District agencies, government officials, and local news outlets providing regular updates.

 

MORE COVID-19 PREVENTION INFORMATION

From D.C. Water: The District’s drinking water has two stages of disinfection during the water treatment process before it is distributed to the city. Disinfectants, like chlorine, used to treat our drinking water are effective to inactivate COVID-19. There is no evidence that COVID-19 can survive in treated drinking water, and disinfection levels throughout the District’s pipe distribution system remain at effective levels to keep water clean and safe.

From the Office of the Attorney General (OAG): Beware of emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control or experts saying that they have information about the virus. You should ignore offers for vaccinations and be wary of advertisements for cures of treatments for the disease. Make sure to also do your own research before donating to a charity to avoid falling to a charity scam. Scams can be reported to OAG by calling 202-442-9828, emailing consumer.protection@dc.gov, or submitting a complaint online.

Please continue to be vigilant about your wellbeing and our communities’ safety as we work together to keep as many people as possible in good health.

Thanks so much for reading.

Elissa.