D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says the city is looking for ways to reopen the local economy that's ground to a halt as the city stems the spread of the novel coronavirus and called on the federal government to assist with widespread testing.
"We're looking at ways to reopen our economy, to get people back to work. People are really suffering," Bowser said Tuesday morning in a phone interview with News4.
The current stay-at-home order is set to expire in 10 days, on April 24. But turning on the economy again must be done in a way that doesn't spur another spike in COVID-19 infections, Bowser said.
"We have to be careful about how we turn it on so we don't find ourselves having lost all of the gains that social distancing has allowed us to achieve," Bowser said.
Fewer than 2% of District residents have been tested for coronavirus, although experts say that widespread testing is one of the best ways to contain the disease.
Bowser says testing is where the federal government should step in to a "much, much bigger degree." She says amid discussions with federal officials that the city received 16 fast-result test machines made by Abbott and about 1,000 sampling kits.
The District has ramped up testing capacity and can now test about 500 people per day in public labs, the Mayor said Monday.
But more capacity is needed. The city needs rapid, 15-minute testing and kits widely available for progress to be made, Bowser said.
"No one wants to get back to business more than I do. No one wants to get kids back in school and learning environments more than I do. But we have to make sure we can be safe."
Bowser says city-wide testing is available through public and private providers. Here's more information.
President, Treasury Could Fix $750M Rescue Funds Shortfall, Bowser Says
President Donald Trump this week said Bowser is "very happy" with the federal government support for Washington, D.C. The mayor thanked FEMA for providing testing supplies and the Interior Department for closing down some roads so residents can exercise.
But Bowser continues to fight for $750 million the city was shortchanged of by the third coronavirus economic rescue bill, which defined the District as a territory eligible for less financial aid.
"We're not a territory," she told News4 on Tuesday. "District residents pay federal taxes."
Bowser again decried the CARES Act coronavirus economic rescue bill as "an injustice" in a statement this week.
Bowser said she pushed Vice President Mike Pence in a phone call to work with Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the issue. She says the Treasury has control over hundreds of millions it could funnel toward the District.
Bowser also said that it would take cooperation between the president and Congress "to fix this business about the District being classified as a territory."
"The District should never be a political football," she said. "We've never been classified as a territory for the purpose of federal funding."
"I don't know what the political fight is in the Senate over this issue. We were blindsided by it," she said.