DC Mayor Extends Public Health Emergency, Indoor Mask Mandate – NBC4 Washington

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended a limited public health emergency and indoor mask requirements Wednesday.

Bowser issued the public health emergency earlier this month to help hospitals handle a surge in COVID-19 cases. The extension runs through Feb. 15.

The mayor’s office also extended indoor mask requirements to last until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28.

An influx of COVID patients, a crush of people going to the emergency room for mild symptoms and staffing shortages have put extra stress on local hospitals.

Some hospitals experienced staffing shortages of 25% related to COVID-19, preventing them to use all of their capacity, Bowser’s previous order says.

The order gives DC Health authority to quickly change procedures, deadlines and standards in response to COVID-19 as warranted. DC Health must issue an administrative order to lay out details such as whether crisis standards of care or liability protections are in place. 

Hospitals also asked D.C. to implement crisis standards of care, allowing hospitals to lower the ratio of staff to patients, continue use of out-of-state medical licenses and authorizing liability protections.

According to a letter from the D.C. Hospital Association, the strain on the District’s health care system is greater now than at any time since the pandemic began.