Dec 7, 2021 - COVID

The D.C. region prepares for Omicron variant

A group of people wait outside in line for COVID vaccines.
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Omicron hasn't been identified in D.C. yet, but most experts believe it’s just a matter of time before the new variant is found all across the U.S.

  • Last week three people in the Baltimore area were reported to be the first in Maryland with the variant.

Why it matters: Preliminary Omicron research shows that prior COVID infection may not protect well against the new variant, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes

  • This early information underscores the importance of getting vaccinated, even if you've already had COVID.

By the numbers: According to CDC data, D.C. lags behind Maryland and Virginia in the percentage of residents with COVID booster shots. 

  • Maryland is slightly ahead in both percentage of fully vaccinated residents and percentage of residents with booster shots. 
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

State of play: D.C. issued a mask advisory last Thursday, stopping short of reinstating an indoor mandate that was lifted on Nov. 22.

  • According to D.C. Council chair Phil Mendelson, the council has the authority to revive the city's mandate but has no current plans to do so.
  • “Do I wish that the city had a mask mandate? Yes,” he said, noting that he and nine lawmakers signed a letter on Nov. 17 criticizing the mayor for announcing the end of the mandate. 
  • DC Health director LaQuandra Nesbitt said last Thursday that the advisory was intended to emphasize her recommendation that “people should wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status given the level of transmission that we have.”
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