Axios D.C.

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☀️ Happy Monday, D.C.! It's looking like a beautiful, sunny day out there.

  • Expect to see us Chelsea Cirruzzo, Cuneyt Dil, and Paige Hopkins — in your inbox each weekday morning with stories that empower you to live, work, and play your best.
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Today's newsletter is 926 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: D.C.'s big danger

Blue campaign style sign that reads "Slow down 20 (speed limit) saves lives."

Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Near-miss collisions between pedestrians and cars are spiking throughout the area as D.C. reopens, leading to a new push from activists for action from city leaders.

Why it matters: Everyday danger for pedestrians has increased as our area has become more livable and walkable — and more of our activities have moved outside.

By the numbers: Alexandria Families For Safe Streets, which uses crowd-sourced data to track the area's most accident-prone intersections, tracked an increase of 300 near-miss pedestrian incidents from June to now.

  • Arlington, Reston, and Alexandria are some of the most dangerous areas for pedestrians, according to the group's data.
  • Maryland also reported an increase in driver, pedestrian, and cyclist fatalities from 2019 to 2020.
  • Dangerous intersection data from the District's DOT shows that 12 pedestrians have died in traffic accidents this year.

The latest: A driver struck and killed a 5 year old who was riding her bike in Northeast on Sept. 13. 

  • Washington Post columnist Theresa Vargas compiled reactions to the incident, including video of cars blowing through the stop sign in front of her memorial.
  • In response, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and two other organizations sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser and other city officials demanding they use funding to prioritize pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Speak up: We're tracking dangerous areas for pedestrians. Drop us a line or send us a pic, and we'll share our findings.

2. 🍔 "Sir, this is no longer a Wendy's"

An aerial view of cars driving through Dave Thomas Circle, with the Wendy's in the middle.

Photo: Al Drago for Bloomberg via Getty Images

Speaking of confusing and hazardous intersections, the Wendy's at the heart of what's lovingly become known as Dave Thomas Circle will serve its final Frosty on Tuesday, Bowser announced. 

  • It was a hot topic on Twitter (thanks for the headline @MissingThePt).

The "circle," or the middle of First Street NE, Florida Avenue, and New York Avenue, is scheduled to get a new look next spring.

  • Bowser says Wendy's will vacate the premises by Sept. 30. 
  • "Onward to a less confusing and safer intersection. Grateful for the advocacy of neighbors who helped us get here," she tweeted

Flashback: The Wendy's was acquired via eminent domain in February, the Washington Post reported at the time. 

  • According to the Post, the roundabout is among D.C.'s most hazardous intersections, with 80% of crashes involving sideswipes or rear-end collisions. 

What's next: DDOT is working on a new intersection design to ...

  • Realign and add two-way traffic on First Street NE as well as restore two-way traffic to Florida Avenue.
  • Add protected bike lanes.
  • Create new public park space.

3. 🎤 A concert *and* a city planning lesson

Harry Styles smiles in a sweater and khaki pants.

Photo: Rich Fury for Spotify via Getty Images

Harry Styles taught a lesson in D.C. urban design at Capital One Arena on Saturday night — and Chelsea was there to see it.

  • At a packed concert full of glitter, feather boas, and cowboy hats, Styles confided to the crowd he'd explored D.C.’s alphabetical streets that morning. 
  • This prompted the crowd to recite the alphabet with him, but Styles interjected at the letter J.
  • "There's no J Street!" he shouted. Seriously, here's a video

Unfortunately, Harry didn't take the time between "Watermelon Sugar" and "Falling" to explain why that's so. So we will instead:

  • A popular rumor suggests that D.C. designer Pierre L'Enfant hated Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay too much to include a J Street.
  • But truthfully, in the late 1700s, the letters I and J looked similar and were often used interchangeably.

4. Around the Beltway: How about them ...

Illustration of a text-message balloon that looks like the Washington D.C. flag, with the stars fading in and out like a text-message waiting animation.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏈 The battle of the "real HUs" went down on Saturday. The historic HBCU rivalry between Howard and Hampton universities was the first college football game to take place at Audi Field.

  • The Hampton Pirates took their fifth consecutive win over the Bison.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, a Howard alum, was at the game.
  • The bands, as per usual, stole the show.

⚾️ The Nats continued their series against the Rockies, and gave away tickets to newly vaccinated fans.

  • They'll play again in Denver tonight.

🏒 The Capitals will play their first preseason game against the Bruins on Sunday.

5. 📈 COVID cases climb to pre-vax rate

Illustrated collage of a cut up coronavirus cell.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

D.C.'s daily average rate of new COVID-19 cases resembles that of early December 2020, just before the first vaccine was authorized.

Driving the trend: Kids now have the highest seven-day average rate of new cases across all age demographics, according to preliminary D.C. Health data and an analysis by D.C. Covid Data

  • Between Sept. 9 and Sept. 15, the seven-day average rate of new cases among kids ages 5 to 14 nearly doubled.
  • Young adults aged 20 to 24 trail slightly behind with the second-highest seven-day average rate of new cases. 

The good news: Even as cases have climbed, hospitalizations are at roughly half of what they were back in December. 

  • Put simply, the vaccines are doing their job, as Axios' Bob Herman reported.

6. 🐅 Lions and tigers and COVID-19

A tiger standing on all fours and staring straight into the camera.

Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Nine great cats at the National Zoo are being treated for COVID-19.

  • The zoo says six lions and three tigers are presumed to have COVID-19, but are awaiting final test results. 
  • No other animals are showing symptoms, zoo staff tell Axios.

According to the zoo's initial investigation, it's not clear how the animals were infected.

  • A National Zoo spokesperson wouldn't confirm whether unvaccinated staffers have interacted with the cats, as the zoo doesn't share employee vaccination status.
  • The zoo says it's standard practice for all animal care and essential staff to wear masks indoors.

They're just like us: The Department of Agriculture has approved a COVID-19 vaccine for zoo animals, which will be administered to some National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute animals when it becomes available.

7. 🌽 1 bite to go: Dreamy corn

Photo: Chelsea Cirruzzo/Axios

This last weekend of summer was jam-packed with events. Our team did everything from roller skating to cheering on the Nats.

  • Chelsea's still dreaming about this elote (corn) from Fresca Taqueria at the H Street Festival.

🎉 In celebration of our first newsletter ...

  • Chelsea is thinking about this Halloween costume in honor of Dave Thomas Circle.
  • Cuneyt is enjoying these cooler temperatures. 😎
  • Paige is catching up on this (no judgment please) and eating this.
  • Our editor Kayla is tasting Hispanic Heritage Month-inspired ice cream.