By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor

The nation’s capital is still suffering from the novel coronavirus with more than 3,000 District of Columbia residents having tested positive for COVID-19.

Fifty percent of those diagnosed with COVID-19 are African American.

Dr. Asefa Jejaw Mekonnen, a Rockville pulmonary and critical care physician and consultant, is being outspoken about COVID-19’s disproportionate affect on African Americans.

Mekonnen said if something extremely intentional isn’t done to protect Africans American communities, “multiple deaths will continue to occur.”

With more than 3,000 D.C. residents testing positive for COVID-19, Mayor Muriel Bowser is taking local actions to flatten the curve as science still searches for solutions. (Photo by Andrew Cline /

“Very little is being discussed as a solution to protect this vulnerable population. If action is not taken immediately, we could lose a generation,” said the Rockville doctor, who is a native of Gondar, Ethiopia.

While medical discoveries and answers continue to develop, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser is still working to come up with ways local residents can protect themselves as the novel coronavirus continues to ravage the area.

The mayor is still encouraging residents to stay at home and extended the close of essential businesses through May 15.  

She also announced DCPS will officially end the school year on May 29.

“Learning at home will continue for the rest of the school year.  We will close our school year early, and we’ll be able to say more about summer and the start of the next school year by May 15,” Bowser tweeted. 

In addition to business and school amendments, Bowser also considered changes for those constituents making essential trips to the grocery store.

While Washingtonians generally have a five-cent fee for plastic bags, payment has been waived.

One grocery store attendant, who chose to speak on the condition of anonymity, explained to the AFRO that touching cloth reusable bags is extremely unsanitary, even before the pandemic.  The grocery store clerk shared an anecdote about a time she shook a reusable bag and animal hair flew everywhere.  

With the inability to regulate if reusable bags are sanitary during the COVID-19, the mayor waived the plastic bag fee, and health practitioners think that is one productive means of flattening the curve.

“Using the single-use bags for right now would be the best option because we don’t have a good way of disinfecting reusable bags in a thorough and systematic way,” said Jade Flinn, a nurse educator in the bio-containment unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital according to Fox 5-DC.

In addition, Bowser announced through Twitter that the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) “will temporarily extend sidewalks near grocery stores and other essential retailers to allow pedestrians enough space to practice social distancing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.”

The mayor explained that the sidewalk extensions will occur in all eight wards based off of DDOT’s assessments as well as recommendations from the public.

“While staying at home is a crucial part of flattening the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic, we do recognize residents need to make trips to essential businesses like grocery stores and sometimes existing sidewalk space makes social distancing a challenge,” Bowser tweeted.


Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor