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Washington, D.C.'s indoor mask mandate extended through February

Washington, D.C.'s indoor mask mandate extended through February
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday extended her city's indoor mask mandate to the end of February. Pool File Photo by Carlos Barria/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has extended the city's COVID-19 indoor mask mandate until the end of the February.

The order issued Thursday extends the COVID-19 mitigating measure until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28 along with enforcement provisions.

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Bowser had initially issued the mask mandate on Dec. 20 when the seven-day case average for the city was 42.8 infections per 100,000 people. Currently, the city is seeing a daily case rate of 51.3 infections per 100,000, her office said.

On Wednesday, she also extended her public health emergency order for the city, stating that despite 90% of residents being partially or fully vaccinated, stress on Washington, D.C.'s hospitals and healthcare providers has "dramatically increased" this month.

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"Although the surge of infections relating to the Omicron variant appears to be abating, the stress on hospitals and our medical providers and facilities continues," the order states. "Hospitalization and deaths lag infections, so the District is facing increases in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, increased ventilator use by persons with COVID-19 and more deaths than the District experienced at the beginning of January."

The public health emergency must continue, the order states, due to the number of emergency room visits, continuing deaths and staff shortages caused in part by themselves falling ill with the virus.

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"By extending the limited public health emergency, the district and our healthcare partners can continue to respond expeditiously and safely to COVID-19 and its ongoing and changing impacts," it said.

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According to city data, more than 129,000 people in Washington, D.C., have tested positive for COVID-19, including 1,280 who have died.

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