COVID-19

DC Encourages Public to Use Free Self-Test Kits

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D.C. is not only ramping up efforts to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but the city is also emphasizing testing as cases continue to rise.

David Gaston, an ambassador for Get The Shot, spends his days knocking on doors in his neighborhood of Northeast D.C.

"Hundreds of doors so far, if not in the thousands, when I talk about our team," Gaston said. "Each day we’re asked the question are we ready to save lives. The answer is 'Yes.'"

Gaston is one of more than 200 Get The Shot ambassadors in D.C. trying to convince residents to get vaccinated.

"In many cases, it’s a lack of information. So when residents are resistant, I begin with sharing my own personal story and, you know, I did get vaccinated myself because I wanted to make sure that I was safe, that my family was safe and that my community was safe," he said.

To knock on someone's door and to help them make that decision when they're on the fence, by sharing my personal story … the looks on their faces is really, like, thank you," Gaston said.

The city is also promoting free self-test kits available at 16 D.C. public libraries. The samples must be dropped off the same day they are taken because they're time sensitive, officials said. About 12,000 people have used the test kits since April.

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Patrick Ashley, senior deputy for D.C.'s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Administration, cautioned on Monday that the city's mask mandate could be in place through Thanksgiving. But Ashley said Thursday he is hopeful the mask mandate could expire sooner.

"We're not making any guesstimates on how long the masks in place. We know they're going to be in place at least a few more weeks. Right now, our cases are going up. Until we see cases flatten, that’s a concern for us," he said.

"We're also seeing our trailing indicators, which is hospitalization and ventilators
used, start to creep up, which is a bit of a concern for us," Ashley said.

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