Mayor Bowser declares state of emergency in DC amid coronavirus outbreak


Photo courtesy of Mayor Bowser's Instagram account, @mayor_bowser

Max Karp

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency in the city during the current spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus. The declaration gives the DC government access to increased funding and resources to attempt to contain and prevent the impending coronavirus outbreak in the city. DC Health Officials also advised Wednesday to cancel or postpone all “non-essential mass gatherings” of 1,000 people or more for the time being.

In response to the DC Health notice, DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee notified the school district that all “non-essential District-wide and individual school events that accommodate approximately 500 people in one room will be canceled through March 31.” Additionally, all DCPS-sponsored student travel is being suspended through May 1. This cancelation comes after DCPS’ recent cancellation of all international school trips through May 1. 

On Wednesday, DCPS also moved the scheduled Professional Development day from March 20 to March 16 in an effort to prepare staff members for approaching alternative forms of learning in the event of an extended school closure. 

During the press conference in which Bowser officially declared the state of emergency, Bowser told the city to “remain vigilant” and added that “our duty now as citizens is to try and contain the spread of germs and this virus in our communities, while maintaining our essential services.”

A number of colleges in the DC area have canceled in-person classes and moved to an online format. The current list includes American University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, and the University of Maryland-College Park, with other universities across the country like Harvard University doing the same. 

The state of emergency declaration gives Bowser more authority over the mobilization of the city to prevent and contain the spread of coronavirus. Bowser vowed to continue to “work to monitor and respond to COVID-19 in the District.”