A lawyer who worked for Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser died Friday of coronavirus, the mayor announced Friday morning.
Additionally, D.C. officials asked residents to vote by mail in the primary election June 2 and special election June 16 as the fight to stop the spread of the virus continues.
Attorney George Valentine worked in the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel and was a D.C. employee for more than two decades, Bowser said.
“It’s devastating," the mayor said with a quiver in her voice. “We are just very sorry.”
Valentine was “a wonderful person and a committed member of the community who dedicated two decades of his career to public service in District government,” Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “[…] He left an indelible mark on his colleagues and the District. We send our deepest condolences to George’s family and join them in remembering an admirable man whose life ended far too early.”
Contract tracing is underway for who may have had contact with Valentine. Bowser said she did not believe she had recently interacted with him.
The Board of Elections asked all voters to request a primary ballot by mail and return it by mail. As a backup, the District will open approximately 20 voting centers across the city. The plan calls for at least two centers in each ward.
“We strongly urge all voters to vote using the mail-in ballot option,” Board of Elections Chair David Bennett said at the news conference.
You can request a ballot by going to the Board of Elections website or using the Vote4DC app. The ballots are set to be ready for distribution by May 1.
The voting centers will be open May 22 to June 2 for the primary and June 12-16 for the special election. The facilities will be sanitized in line with federal standards, Bennett said.
As of Friday morning 1,645 known cases of coronavirus had been announced in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. D.C. had 267 cases, Maryland had 774 and Virginia had 604. At least 25 people had died.
The mayor urged D.C. residents to stay home as much as possible and observe social distancing.
“The only reason we should be leaving our homes is to buy groceries, pick up medicine, exercise alone or with our own family, or if you’ve been advised to seek medical attention, or if you are performing an essential job,” she said.
Bowser called on Congress Thursday to adjust the coronavirus relief bill that the Senate passed, saying it will give the District less than half the money allocated to states though D.C. has more residents than two states.
Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.