By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
mgreen@afro.com

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the area without flattening of the curve, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was pleased to showcase the alternative care site to support the nation’s capital’s battle against the novel coronavirus at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest, D.C.

In her daily press briefings, Mayor Bowser generally shares the number of positive COVID-19 cases, residents who died from complications due to the virus and other important statistics relating to the potentially fatal disease.  While her May 11 briefing featured 117 new positives and five more fallen residents, making the total overall positives more than 6,300 and deaths 328, the mayor also shared some optimistic news based on her team’s original predictions on the virus’ local impact.  However, there’s still work to be done to flatten the curve.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser showcased a new alternative care site to support the nation’s capital’s battle against the novel coronavirus at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest, D.C. on May 11. (Courtesy Photo)

“We are pleased to say that in the District the number of positive cases are far lower than what we predicted it could have been on this day, but we have yet to see a 14-day decline in community transmission, so we continue to have a lot of work to do to stop the spread of the virus in our city,” Bowser said. 

The alternate site is part of the city’s surge planning.

“In terms of planning for a medical surge, without a cure and without a vaccine, phased opening will mean we’ll see more cases in our city, so part of our surge planning takes that into account and readies us for a potential second phase,” the mayor explained.

“We are monitoring our hospital capacity very carefully, which will let us know if and when we need to use the excess capacity .”  

The site itself was a collaboration of a few different entities, and will be operated by practitioners from MedStar Health.

“Patients who come here will be treated by MedStar nurses and doctors and staff, and the site, of course, is stocked with necessary medical equipment to treat and care for patients,” Bowser said.

Those residents who will be treated at the alternate care site will be considered “low acuity COVID patients,” according to the mayor.  “These are patients who do not need neither a ventilator or an ICU bed,” she said. “However, if a patient is here and their conditions worsen, there are six rapid treatment spaces where patients can be stabilized and returned to an acute care hospital,” the mayor said.  

“Patients who come here will be treated by MedStar nurses and doctors and staff, and the site, of course, is stocked with necessary medical equipment to treat and care for patients,” Bowser said confidently. 

While the mayor is excited about the alternate site, some residents used social media to tell the city’s leader that the COVID care support location is an unnecessary use of resources.

“From the slide : we’ve flattened the curve with respect to beds. We never needed the surge beds. We will never need this new facility,” Twitter user Adam Kissel wrote in reply to the mayor’s tweet about the new site.

For now the mayor assured residents that the alternate site is fully equipped and will only need to be used in case of an emergency.

“I’ve said before that we consider this site our insurance policy. We hope that we will never have to use it, but it is here and staffed for when we do or if we do. This hall, Hall A, is set up to accommodate 437 beds, and starting tomorrow it will be ready in terms of equipment and staff, to care for up to 100 patients,” she said.

Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor