DC mayor declares state of emergency due to coronavirus

(CNN) — Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday declared a state of emergency and a public health emergency as the nation’s capital looks to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The move — which will help free up resources and funding — came alongside news of six new cases in Washington, bringing the total number to 10.

“While this is an administrative action, largely, it will give me more authority to implement and fund the measures that we need to monitor and respond to Covid-19 in our community,” Bowser told reporters.

The announcement came just hours after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic with more than 1,200 cases in the US and growing clusters of the disease forcing many Americans to change their daily lives.

In Washington, this includes the suspension of visitor tours in the US Capitol, according to a Capitol official.

LaQuandra Nesbitt, the director of the DC Department of Health, said Wednesday that because of the nature of the new cases in Washington, “we anticipate that we will have additional cases.”

“Those additional cases indicate to us, because of the nature of the new cases who have been identified, that we have person-to-person transmission occurring in the District of Columbia, as well as at least two individuals whose reason for COVID-19 has yet to be identified, ” she said.

Bowser’s announcement Wednesday underscored her comments to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier this week urging the federal government to “step it up” in their response to the virus.

Specifically, Bowser said DC needed assistance from the federal government with “how we procure supplies that support the testing that our public health labs are doing.”

“We will need to have that support from them and we need it right now,” she said.

Bowser stressed that the DC government would approach any changes to regular city operations by “following the science” and “making sure that any decisions we make will actually keep people safer.”

The-CNN-Wire

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