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New Report Blasts D.C. Mayor’s Handling of COVID-19 Crisis

D.C.’s Black residents have died from the coronavirus at a rate nearly six times that of the city’s white population, a new report found.

The report by American Public Media, which considered some of the worst recorded coronavirus disparities between Black and white residents, states that “missteps” — that include lack of testing and poorly resourced hospitals — surrounding D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s handling of the crisis helped contribute to how the virus has affected Black residents as opposed to whites.

For instance, while Black residents comprise nearly 50 percent of the city’s population, they have accounted for nearly two out of every three virus deaths.

As a result, there were “crucial missteps” from the Bowser administration that have had a disproportionate impact on Black people, according to the report, which further reveals that the city failed to open sites for free coronavirus testing in the largely impoverished Ward 8 —where most residents are Black — until early April.

The report goes on to state that when a testing site was opened, it was at United Medical Center, a remote hospital located near the Maryland border, and hours were limited. When testing was made available, patients could only get tested during a four-hour window on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Not many people showed up to get tested, and two months later, the site was closed down.

Parisa Norouzi, director of Empower DC, an advocacy group composed of low-income city residents fighting for racial and economic justice, told APM the city “was not prepared” for the virus, speculating that Bowser may have been distracted by being on the campaign trail earlier this year with former New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.

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