So today is the big day for D.C.: it’s relaxing, somewhat, restrictions on activity (you can read the details here). It was going to happen eventually, though I really think the city should have waited until the original date of June 8.
D.C. doesn’t really have an enforcement mechanism (there are indoor businesses I’ve seen where customers and workers aren’t wearing masks, even though they’re required to do so). To boot, some of the regulations are vague. No, you can’t write regulations for every circumstance, but I suspect that some businesses will behave badly, even if unintentionally. I also worry that loosening restrictions will lead to bad behavior. Finally, there could be an ‘Ocean City’ effect from last weekend that starts to kick in next week.
This is all against the backdrop of there being too many cases. Yes, the numbers are declining, but right now, we’re still counting on, like most places, the infrequency of infection to protect us. It’s not clear that the total number of infected people is low enough yet. It’s not just the trend, but also the absolute numbers–in every ward (the best way to not get COVID-19 is to not be in contact with someone who has it).
In terms of response, even though the city claims the ability to track close contacts of all new cases, D.C. has not yet demonstrated the ability, despite its claim, to rapidly test, trace, and isolate at scale like, let’s say, South Korea. Since most spread occurs via ‘super-spreading’, it’s not clear this is enough capacity–testing needs to cover more than just close contacts.
Hopefully I’m wrong about this: it’s time for some luck to break D.C.’s way. With luck, we’ll be one of the places during the summer that doesn’t get a flareup. Anyway, it’s pretty clear the city is done listening to the microbiologists on this, so here’s to hoping.