coronavirus

DC Mayor Says Field Hospital Is ‘Insurance Policy' Against Anticipated Coronavirus Surge

The District is still planning for high demands on hospitals in mid-May to June and is opening a field hospital as an "insurance policy," Mayor Muriel Bowser tells News4

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Washington, D.C., has seen a lower level of coronavirus infections than anticipated, but Mayor Muriel Bowser says the city will continue to prepare to expand the number of hospital beds to accommodate patients.

"We have lower levels of infection than we expected but we continue to see cases and growing cases so we're very very focused on making sure people are staying home," Bowser said Tuesday on News4 Today.

Social distancing measures seem to be working, even if compliance with some rules isn't perfect, the mayor says.

Bowser says that she personally has seen plenty of residents following the rule to wear masks in stores, but has asked her staff to make sure police officers are visible at stores to encourage people to follow the rules.

"Every time I go into a store, I see people with masks," Bowser says. "We do ourselves a favor to contain this virus, to keep frontline workers safe and keep stores open, by wearing a face covering."

The District is still planning for a surge in infections in mid-May into June, Bowser said. Peak demand for hospital beds would follow.

Hundreds of medical beds will be put into the Walter E. Washington Convention Center as an "insurance policy" against overuse, Bowser said. Hospitals have also increased their capacity, in part by opening unused floors.

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Bowser said Monday that getting more testing is essential to reopening temporarily shuttered businesses. About 2% of D.C. residents have been tested for the virus so far.

Ten public and private testing sites are up and running, Bowser told News4. She asked residents to take action if they have symptoms by seeking testing and self-isolating. Here is information on testing sites.

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