D.C Mayor Bowser extends COVID mask mandate in nation's capital through February
The mayor of the nation's capital will not be letting the mask mandate expire, despite case rates moving past their peak
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser has extended the city's indoor COVID-19 mask mandate through the end of February, as opposed to allowing it to expire at the end of January, per the initial order.
Bowser, a Democrat, will also extend the city's limited, public-health emergency through the middle of next month.
In November, Bowser withdrew legal requirements that required residents and visitors wear a mask in all public indoor spaces, a rule that had been in place since last summer, when the Delta variant was surging.
However, she reinstated the mandate when the city experienced a spike in cases in late 2021 as the virus' highly contagious Omicron variant emerged.
The mayor added additional restrictions – including vaccine requirements – for patrons of restaurants, gyms and other entertainment venues that went into effect Jan. 15.
Case rates are down since their peak Omicron levels several weeks ago, falling from a weekly rate of more than 2,200 new cases per 100,000 residents, to 379 cases per 100,000 as of Wednesday.
"Although the surge of infections relating to the Omicron variant appears to be abating, the stress on hospitals and medical providers and facilities continues," Bowser said in extending the mask mandate.
"Hospitalizations and deaths lag infections, so the District is facing increases in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, increased ventilator use by persons with COVID-19, and more deaths than the District experienced at the beginning of January."
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