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Dear Neighbors,

I am pleased to inform you that the Council has unanimously voted to approve the “New Hospital at St. Elizabeths Amendment Act of 2020,” thereby officially approving the construction and operations agreement for a state-of-the-art, 136-bed community hospital that will catalyze a comprehensive health care system for Wards 7 and 8 for the first time ever! 

This new hospital will serve as the catalyst for an interconnected health care system of emergency care, urgent care, specialty care, ambulatory care, primary care, medical offices, independent physicians, and dentists for the 150,000 residents that live east of the Anacostia River and who have never had a real health care system.  

The negotiated deal that was also approved strikes a sound balance between the interests of labor and the District’s goal of creating job opportunities for DC residents.  This agreement provides a hiring preference to all current employees of United Medical Center first, and then, subsequently, requires the hospital operator to comply with District First Source laws to hire 50% DC residents.  The operations agreement along with Federal and District law provide strong workforce protections for the future employees and a potential future union at the new hospital. 

I am extremely excited to see new multi-million-dollar investments into school-based mental health programs.  These programs are extremely important, especially during this health crisis.  I commend the Chairman of the Council for working with me and Councilmember Nadeau to shift a small amount of the school-based mental health program’s increase to the health care alliance to fully fund health care alliance reforms by October 1st.  We cannot have our undocumented residents waiting in long lines to have a face-to-face interview to renew their health care.

In other budget news, I am delighted that we were able to maintain our first round Ward 7 wins at Tuesday’s final vote on our local budget.  Working closely with Chairman Mendelson and other council colleagues, I was able to secure several important Ward 7 priorities including:
  • $420,840 to complete the Skyland town center;
  • $250,000 for a small area plan for Pennsylvania Avenue East;
  • $200,000 to create a Pennsylvania Avenue East Main Street program;
  • $210,000 for the replacement of the HVAC system at the Deanwood Library;
  • $200,000 to complete a water source connection for the Kingman Park-Rosedale community garden;
  • Capital funding to begin the Fort Dupont Ice Arena upgrade in FY 2021 and a recurring $235,000 to fund the grant to run programming at the ice arena;
  • $500,000 to support the 20-member Police Reform Commission; 
  • Full funding to complete the Ward 7 streetcar line and interconnected pedestrian safety improvements at the Whitlock Bridge, which will improve pedestrian safety and increase mobility for Ward 7 with the widening of the bridge to create shared use paths for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The bridge will also become ADA compliant and provide better trail connection along the Whitlock bridge to the Anacostia River Walk Trail; the proposal to fix the interchange at Benning Road and DC-295, which currently generates significant volumes of vehicles making illegal U-turns at the 34th street intersection; and improvements to high crash intersections at Minnesota Avenue & Benning Road; and
  • Restoring the funding for two important feasibility studies, one to investigate the potential upward expansion of the Benning-Stoddert Recreation Center, which is highly utilized by the Ward 7 community, and another to investigate locating a recreation center in River Terrace, which is an isolated community in Ward 7 without convenient access to any recreation facility.
COVID-19 UPDATE
 
The Department of Health released information about the modest increase in positive cases, which is being attributed to a variety of factors including summer travel, increased testing, the protests, and people becoming a little too relaxed about wearing face coverings and social distancing.  Thankfully, the increase in positive cases has not resulted in increased rates of hospitalization or death, because the majority of those infected were younger people.  This increase in younger people testing positive is still extremely concerning and is one of the major reasons for a new Mayor’s order, which I will discuss next.  Between July 1 and July 20, 66% of cases in DC were people under 40, which is a significant increase, because prior to July 1 only 41% of cases were people under 40.  Since July 1, the percent of hospitalized cases of people who are under age 40 has increased from 16% to 29%, compared to hospitalized cases before July 1.  We will continue to track these numbers very carefully, but we have not seen an increase that comes anywhere close to what we are seeing now in southern states, which is extremely good news. 

Currently, there are 11,649 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the District, and, tragically, 581 deaths caused by COVID-19. African Americans still account for 75% of COVID-19 deaths in Washington, DC compared to about 46% of population.  Please continue to wear your face coverings and practice social distancing while out in public. 
NEW MASK ORDER
 
On Wednesday, Mayor Bowser issued a new order on masks to address the increase in community spread of coronavirus that we are seeing, particularly among younger residents.  The Mayor’s order also significantly expands the requirement to wear masks outdoors.  It states that persons leaving their residence shall wear a mask when they are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time.  And it emphasizes that operators and passengers of public transportation must wear a mask at all times. 

An acceptable mask is defined as any face covering, including medical or surgical masks, homemade cloth face coverings, store-bought masks, and bandannas or other cloths wrapped around the head that covers the mouth and nose.  So, there is a great deal of flexibility, but you need to ensure that the mask covers both the nose and mouth. 

Additionally, persons must wear a mask indoors when:
  • They are in the common areas of apartments, condominiums and cooperatives (hallways, lobbies, laundry rooms, elevators, etc.)
  • They are working in any indoor business or office;
  • And, the order requires employers to provide masks to their employees.
ADVANCES IN TESTING
 
The District is currently providing COVID-19 and antibody testing to all DC residents.  Call the Testing Triage Center at 1 (855) 363-0333 Monday-Friday from 8:30AM-4:30PM to set up an appointment.  A new antibody testing site has opened in Ward 7.  See below.
Learn more about additional testing sites and to find a testing site near you.  
Click NOW! For More Information
CONTACT TRACING
 
The District has directed $2.3 million of the District’s Contingency Cash Reserve Fund to initial staffing hires at the DC Coronavirus Contact Trace Force, which is housed at the DC Department of Health (DC Health). DC Health has onboarded 300 contact tracers as part of the Contact Trace Force expansion. Click here for more information. 
REOPENING OUR SCHOOLS
It is expected that at that time families will be able to choose between a hybrid model of in-person and/or all virtual instruction each week.  Also, students would be broken into separate cohorts to maintain social distancing with all students learning at home on Wednesdays which has been designated as a cleaning day for all schools.

One issue I will continue to monitor very carefully is whether the District's plan protects students, teachers, and their family members who have pre-existing health care conditions, by providing access to a digital tele-school curriculum, either as a student or instructor.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a recommendation that children return to the classrooms this fall, in part because of the adverse impact that the digital divide is having on increasing the educational attainment gap between lower-income and minority versus white and upper-class children.  This is a complex issue with many facets to consider, and I’m going to continue to push the executive for more information to ensure the District is prepared and parents have the necessary information needed to make an informed decision.
DCPS GROCERY DISTRIBUTION
 
There are 13 drive-thru grocery sites in the District where D.C. students and their families can pick up fresh fruits, vegetables, and non-perishable groceries. Groceries are available first-come, first-serve from 12:30PM to 2:00PM. Four of the sites are located in Ward 7 at:

Kelly Miller Middle School (Tuesday)
Woodson High School (Wednesday)
Kimball Elementary School (Thursday)
Bard High School (Thursday)

To get the full schedule visit: coronavirus.dc.gov and click on the “Food” tab.
RESOURCES FOR SENIORS 
SNAP ALERT!
Visit this link for more information: www.amazon.com/snap-ebt.
HELP FOR OUR WORKFORCE
DC Paid Family Leave is here for District workers! Learn how you can plan for tomorrow today at dcpaidfamilyleave.dc.gov. To learn more join our weekly Wellness Wednesday virtual series at 12pm. Register here! https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/546139928219101965
Unfortunately, for some of our residents COVID-19 has caused a reduction in income or unemployment. Here is some information about DC Unemployment Insurance, how to apply. 
SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE ALERT!

Business members of our community have been affected as well but are not without support. For more information and to access the DC COVID-19 Business Inquiry Form, visit: Coronavirus.dc.gov/recovery-business. Here are some additional resources. 
MAKE SURE YOU ARE COUNTED - 2020 CENSUS!

I encourage everyone to participate in the 2020 Census, especially Ward 7 residents. Call 1-844-330-2020 or go online (https://2020census.gov/) today and complete your 2020 Census form!  During this coronavirus pandemic, we have seen how the District of Columbia can be short changed, or more accurately, shorted hundreds of millions of dollars.  It is imperative that you complete the census and be counted, so when the federal government looks at the District of Columbia, we have the most accurate information available that will dictate how much the District received in mandated and discretionary federal funding across several sectors.
COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS 
 
Dear Community Stakeholders of the Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center:
 
Please join the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the DC Department of General Services (DGS) for a virtual community meeting to discuss the upcoming renovations to the Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center. Come share your thoughts, help influence the project design, and learn how to get involved in the project.  Your attendance and feedback are critical to the process and greatly appreciated. All ages are welcome!
 
Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center Virtual Community Meeting – Concept Presentation
 
Meeting date: Thursday, July 30, 2020
Meeting time: 6:00- 8:00 PM
 
Meeting link:  https://dcnet.webex.com/dcnet/j.php?MTID=m7d12949d282eb9051f84a2458073cbbc              
Meeting number:  160 229 3613
Password: joyevans
 
To Join by Phone:
1-650-479-3208 Call-in number (US/Canada)
Access code: 160 229 3613
The Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens has a photography contest, and we're looking for photos of the gardens from members of the community!

To view the winning photos and honorable mentions from our 2016-2019 competitions, please check out our website: https://kenaqgardens.org/events/photo-contest/  . To participate in our 2020 competition, please review the official rules and instructions and submit your photos to megan@fokag.org.  
 
We have several categories for the contest this year, with the deadline for lotus photographs coming up fast!
 
Category Submissions Due  
Lotus July 22
Abstracts Aug 22
Plants & Flowers Sept 22
Landscapes Oct 22
Wildlife Nov 22
 
The aquatic gardens are open and in full bloom. Come on out!
COVID-19 UTILITY ASSISTANCE!
More information and the application for this program is available through DOEE at doee.dc.gov/service/criac or by contacting criac.residential@dc.gov.  
In closing, my office has continued to receive complaints about loud, explosive-sounding fireworks.  Residents have called and emailed explaining that these explosive fireworks have been disruptive to their quality of life, keeping them up at night, and some so powerful that they are physically shaking their homes.  Although these explosive fireworks and flying fireworks are illegal in the District, we have seen an influx of such fireworks in our neighborhoods over the years.  We have alerted the Sixth District and will continue to monitor the situation. Although we hear them less since July 4th, your vigilance in reporting those who use illegal fireworks is needed to help curb their deployment.  To report the use or sale of illegal fireworks, contact the DC FIRE/EMS Department's Fire Prevention Division at (202) 727-1614 or email: fems.fireprevention@dc.gov.  Stay safe and be well.

In service, 
Vince 
STAY CONNECTED!
WARD 7 WE ARE STILL WORKING FOR YOU!
 
For any constituent issues, assistance for seniors & families, contact my constituent services team, Sedrick Muhammad at (202) 704-9657 or smuhammad@dccouncil.us; D.L. Humphrey at (202) 704-4304 or dhumphrey@dccouncil.us. 
HOW ARE WE DOING? 

Take a moment to let us know how we're doing!
Click here to complete the Ward 7 Survey: 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WARD7SURVEY 
STAFF
Sheila E. Bunn
Chief of Staff

sbunn@dccouncil.us

Jordan M. Betters
Staff Assistant/Scheduler

jbetters@dccouncil.us


Takiyah "T.N." Tate
Director of Communications

ttate@dccouncil.us

Sedrick Muhammad
Director of Constituent Services

smuhammad@dccouncil.us

Dexter L. Humphrey
Deputy Director of Constituent Services

dhumphrey@dccouncil.us

Terrance Norflis
Legislative Director

tnorflis@dccouncil.us


Committee on Health
(202) 727-7774

 

Eric J. Goulet, J.D.
Committee Director/Senior Counsel

egoulet@dccouncil.us

Michelle Loggins
Deputy Committee Director

mloggins@dccouncil.us

Malcolm Cameron
Legislative Analyst

mcameron@dccouncil.us

 

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Office of Councilmember Vincent C. Gray 


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