Like many jurisdictions across the country and around the world, the District of Columbia is seeing an increase in new cases of COVID-19.
The District no longer publishes daily COVID-19 data, instead now relying on a weekly alert system that monitors community spread. Since mid-February, the level has been low, but Wednesday the level was elevated to medium due to a significant increase in the weekly case rate.
While health officials in D.C. are not reinstituting any COVID restrictions, the health director is warning that some people should consider wearing masks again.
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On Thursday, D.C.'s health director, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt told News4 that while new cases are going up, hospitalizations are not up significantly.
"Right now, we don't have any indication that people in the District of Columbia are experiencing more severe illness along with that increased weekly case rate," Nesbitt said.
Several universities in the D.C. area have reinstated various forms of COVID precautions, and Philadelphia has reinstated its indoor mask mandate starting next week.
This comes as more than 70 prominent Washingtonians tested positive after attending the annual Gridiron Dinner in D.C. earlier this month.
But Nesbitt says it's not necessary to reinstate mandates in D.C. right now.
"Our guidance for the public has not changed," she said.
"For most District residents, you can still engage with your friends, with your family, without masks, especially for activities that are outdoors," Nesbitt said.
While the District is not seeing a spike in hospitalizations, the increase in new cases has been steady, going from a weekly case rate of about 77 for every 100,000 people in February to more than 200 this week.
Nesbitt cautions those at risk of severe illness or around those with chronic conditions to consider wearing masks, especially indoors.
She also urged people to take advantage of the free testing that D.C. offers, especially during allergy season, when people might confuse COVID symptoms for allergies. She also urged everyone to be vaccinated and boosted.