Most New DC COVID-19 Patients Didn't Attend Events, Travel

About 15% of people who tested positive in about the past two weeks had gone to events with five or more people during the period they were exposed

DC coronavirus testing
Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

Most people recently diagnosed with the coronavirus in D.C. had no known contact with someone who had the virus and did not attend events or travel, new data from the city says. 

D.C.’s health director said she’s concerned about the continued spread of the virus within communities. 

“Many of our cases are still not connected to each other,” Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said at a news conference Monday. 

The health department looked at the 971 people who tested positive for COVID-19 between July 31 and Aug. 13. About 700 people answered a question about whether they had any contact with anyone found to have the virus. More than half of people said no. Twelve percent said they were unsure and 36% said yes. 

About 15% of people who tested positive had gone to events with five or more people during the period they were exposed. This category of events includes parties, cookouts, meetings and places of worship. About 11% of people reported traveling by modes including flying and using a ride-hailing service. 


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The city warned that the data has limitations. Contact tracers have completed interviews since mid-June with about 70% of people who have tested positive. Some people can’t be reached or have not been willing to share information about their exposure or close contacts. 

The health director said eating inside a restaurant poses a potential health risk but there’s no recommendation now to shut down restaurants again. Exposure during travel or in the workplace appears to be higher risk. 

D.C. announced on Monday another 53 cases of the virus. No additional deaths were announced. Since the start of the pandemic, D.C. has tallied more than 13,000 cases of the virus. At least 597 people have died.

The District has reported a consistent increase in community spread since mid-June, meaning the city has not made progress in the key area for weeks.

The city continues to urge D.C. residents to stay six feet from anyone outside their household and wear face coverings. 

“Wearing a mask around friends, family and coworkers is not a sign of distrust or disrespect. It signals that you care about their health and well-being,” briefing materials say.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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