DC Confirms 1st Case of the Coronavirus

Washington, D.C. (Saturday, March 7, 2020) – The District of Columbia has become the latest area with a confirmed case of the coronavirus.  Mayor Muriel Bowser made the official announcement this evening at a press conference at the Wilson Building in NW.

The victim is reported to be a DC man in his 50s who has not apparently traveled abroad.  “At this point, he appears to have no history of international travel and no close contacts with a confirmed case,” said Bowser.  The man has been hospitalized since March 5th.  Officials are now trying to retrace his steps to see who he may have come in contact with in recent weeks.

Meantime, the mayor says she is NOT declaring a state of emergency in the District at this time.  The mayor made the announcement flanked by a team of city officials, including representatives from the DC Department of Health, Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Forensic Science.

DC Health is coordinating closely with the health team where this person is currently being treated and all infection control protocols are being followed.  While this is the first case in the District, officials say there is still no widespread community transmission and the general level of risk for residents is low.

Because human coronaviruses most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, DC officials are reminding residents to take the same measures that are recommended annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses.

  • Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

DC Health does not recommend that healthy individuals wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. Residents should only wear a mask if recommended by a healthcare professional. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected.