D.C. officials are still preparing to see a surge in hospitalizations and deaths because of coronavirus in mid-June.
Mayor Muriel Bowser gave an update Monday on the work that’s underway, including creating a 1,500-bed medical facility at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center downtown. She said social distancing is working but more illnesses and deaths are expected.
The mayor also reacted to a federal judge’s ruling over the weekend that conditions at the D.C. jail are dangerous. She pushed back against the characterization that officials displayed a “deliberate indifference.”
“We would disagree with any conclusion that said we weren’t working hard to save lives in Washington, D.C.,” she said.
D.C. made it easier for residents to be tested for free. Anyone who exhibits symptoms can now get tested outside United Medical Center. Previously, to get tested you needed to have symptoms and an underlying condition, be a first responder or be part of an at-risk group, such as senior citizens.
Additionally, officials responded to News4’s report this weekend that dumpsters outside a COVID-19 quarantine site overflowed with used personal protective equipment. The health department director said the facility should follow medical protocol for the disposal of these items. They should go into designated containers and not be thrown out with loose trash, Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said.
For weeks, D.C. officials have prepared for an uptick in virus cases. Authorities expect that as many as 93,000 residents — about 13% of the population — will be infected with the virus and 220 to more than 1,000 people will die. A peak in cases and hospitalizations is expected this summer.