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D.C. adds coronavirus testing site near White House as outbreak grows
source:The Washington Post 2020-10-10 [Health]

The D.C. government on Friday set up a free coronavirus testing site outside the White House in response to the growing number of confirmed cases linked to the Trump administration.

The administration of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) added the site among its usual locations Friday afternoon. A spokeswoman for the mayor said there were no immediate plans for regular testing there.

The addition came a day after local public health authorities urged coronavirus testing for anyone who has recently worked at the White House or who attended the Rose Garden event announcing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. D.C. health officials have been in communication with the White House about containing the spread of the virus.

City officials placed the tents for testing on Black Lives Matter Plaza, a street mural honoring the racial justice movement that the mayor painted in defiance of President Trump’s aggressive response to protesters. The site included a banner urging anyone who worked at or visited the White House recently to get tested.

The past two days have brought the greater Washington region’s highest coronavirus caseloads in nearly a month, sending the average number of daily infections to a 21-day high. The rolling seven-day average of new cases jumped to 1,617 on Friday, the highest since Sept. 18.

Local health officials have said they are monitoring the new cases but haven’t connected the regionwide rise to the White House.

D.C., Virginia and Maryland recorded 1,926 new cases Friday, which follows 2,673 additional infections Thursday. Thursday’s numbers were inflated because of a Virginia reporting issue that shifted hundreds of cases from Wednesday one day later.

The single-day caseloads late this week were the highest in the region since Sept. 12. Ward 5 had the greatest share of cases in D.C., and Prince George’s and Baltimore counties had Maryland’s highest caseloads. Northern Virginia’s seven-day average hit an October high.

Virginia on Friday reported 1,114 new infections and 16 deaths, Maryland had 734 new cases and 11 deaths, and D.C. had 78 new cases and no deaths.

Daily infection numbers for all three jurisdictions were above their recent seven-day averages. D.C.’s average daily caseload Friday rose to 60 — the city’s highest since Aug. 18 — although its rate of infection was still below that of the two neighboring states.

After a seven-month closure because of coronavirus precautions, Ford’s Theatre and Museum will begin a phased reopening Wednesday, the Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service announced Friday.

The theater, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and its museum will be open with timed tickets from 10 a.m. to noon, closed for cleaning from noon to 1 p.m., and will reopen from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

A maximum of 25 visitors per hour will be permitted in the building. The site will be open Wednesdays through Sundays.

The Petersen House, across the street from the theater, where Lincoln died, remains closed.

“For the last several months, Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service have been working . . . to adjust our visitor experience to meet new health and safety guidelines,” Ford’s Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault said in a statement. “We are excited to welcome you back.”

The theater closed March 14. It is one of the nation’s best-known historic sites and before the pandemic saw about 650,000 visitors a year.

Elsewhere, D.C. on Tuesday will begin to reopen a slate of gyms and indoor swimming pools at city-owned recreation centers. Residents must book 45-minute appointments up to seven days in advance to ensure social distancing.

Pools are available for reservation at six locations and fitness centers at 13 locations.