After 24 Hours, DC Backtracks on Removing Indoor Mask Mandate for Fully Vaccinated

As first reported by Barred in DC (Patreon here), Mayor Bowser quietly issued a new mask mandate order on Friday (PDF was saved at 5:44pm and posted sometime later), removing nearly all mask mandates-including indoors-for fully vaccinated (2 weeks following final shot in series) DC residents, visitors, and workers. However, a backlash ensued due to the abrupt guidance following when I broke the news, and the order was revised to clarify issues, and reissued around 7p tonight (first reported by Washington City Paper). The new order essentially still eliminates the mask mandate for fully vaccinated persons outdoors, but no longer does the order lift the mask mandate for fully vaccinated indoors. Instead, the order just refers to DC Health guidance that exists and will be forthcoming.

The public link was taken down from the coronavirus.dc.gov (though the link above still works)

This new order significantly loosens mask requirements as compared to the DC Health mask guidance that was revised due to CDC’s new mask guidance of earlier this week. This mask order makes sense in some areas but there are more questions raised than answers, and many problematic (potentially disastrous) aspects with respect to indoor masking. (The order seems similar to the rule the Florida Surgeon General issued on Thursday)

Specifically, the new order issued Saturday contains the following mask rules:

Fully vaccinated people (unless exhibiting COVID symptoms or have COVID) are not required to wear a mask when

  • Gathering indoors with a small group of fully vaccinated people in a private setting as specified in DC Health guidance
  • Gathering indoors with unvaccinated people from one household (unless those people are or live with high-risk people)
  • Gathering or conducting activities outdoors (walking, running, biking) with members of their household except in crowded settings or venues
  • Attending small, outdoor gatherings of friends and family except in crowded settings or venues
  • Visiting outdoors with small gathering of vaccinated & unvaccinated persons that are not people you usually socialize with
  • Passing through a common area of apartments/condos/co-ops for a fleeting time
  • Inside a business, office building or other establishment open to members of the public unless establishment has more stringent rules

Fully vaccinated people must wear a mask when

  • Gathering or conducting activities outdoors in crowded settings or venues
  • Driving or riding taxi/rideshare/public transit
  • DC Health Guidance says so indoors

People who are not fully vaccinated are not required to wear a mask when

  • Leaving residence when not likely to come into contact with another person, such as not being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time including when visiting outdoors with small gathering of vaccinated persons

People who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask when

  • Leaving residence when likely to come into contact with another person-such as being within six feet of another person
  • Driving or riding taxi/rideshare/public transit
  • DC Health Guidance says so indoors

All people are not required to wear a mask when

  • A resident or guest in private home/apartment
  • Actually eating, drinking, or legally smoking
  • Engaging in vigorous outdoor exercise and maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet from others
  • In water in swimming pool
  • In enclosed private office
  • Unable to do to medical condition/disability
  • 0-2 years old
  • giving a speech if no ones is within 6 feet
  • deaf/hard of hearing person needs to read lips of speaker
  • equipment required for job precludes mask
  • Asked for legal facial recognition
  • Services that require access to face, mouth, or head, including without limitation, dental care, shaving, and facial treatment

The order also explicitly acknowledges that establishments can decide to admit, register, or employ only fully vaccinated people only (i.e., vaccine passport). It says that (which is based on Federal law) must provide exceptions for those medically unable to be vaccinated…and religious accommodations to those who forbid them from being vaccinated. But those people still have to be masked. The order mentions that businesses can donate or provide incentives to fully vaccinated people.

My thoughts on Friday’s Order

This is not about Saturday’s order.

Good

  • DC essentially adopted the CDC’s mask guidance for fully vaccinated persons outdoors by removing most restrictions for outdoor activities.
  • Providing some guidance on rules for requiring vaccinations for entry to a business or employment
  • Possibly creating some incentives for vaccinations, in theory

Bad

  • Going completely against CDC guidance which says “Take precautions in indoor public settings like wearing a well-fitted mask(because the vaccination status of others is unknown) by lifting requirements for masking indoors for fully vaccinated
    • Putting onus, without any proper guidance or development regarding vaccine passports/verification, on businesses to verify vaccination status. THis will be be a nightmare. Businesses will likely keep the status quo to avoid doing this, but then will no longer have the government default rule which will undoubtedly cause issues with customers
  • People who are not fully vaccinated will be able to not mask up and spread the virus to others vulnerable because there’s no way to tell who’s vaccinated or not
  • Not explicitly allowing unvaccinated persons in one household to not mask up when gathering with vaccinated people as explicit in CDC guidance
  • No relation to boosting economy if that was intention-Instead of increasing capacity, hours, providing bar seating, appearing to eliminate indoor mask mandates seems to skip a lot of steps that are less risky and cause less potential for bad encounters with staff and employees.
  • Given DC’s very cautious nature during reopening particularly since November 2020, this is a total 180 which will cause immediate anxiety to people and businesses without any warning.
  • This was quietly released on the DC website without any fanfare, press release, or tweet, without any explanation, just 2 days after DC Health published guidance (which was referred to by the Mayor in a press release) which was significantly more narrow. Businesses and people don’t know what to do. ABRA regulations and other DC Health guidance on masks are still on the website. Are there mask rules at outdoor restaurants? What about indoor restaurants?

I hope the Mayor and DC Health modify this order ASAP. [They did]

I asked Neil Sehgal, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at University of Maryland his thoughts. This is what he had to say via Twitter:

This feels counterproductive for two reasons: 1) the burden for enforcement (or verification of vaccination) falls on businesses, creating an adversarial relationship with customers at a time when they them most, and 20 today only 1 in 3 DC residents is fully vaccinated. I understand the want to return to a sense of normalcy, certainly. And, I am sympathetic to arguments that the CDC guidance is too restrictive for vaccinated persons. But, some of the 2/3 of DC residents who get vaccinated today won’t reach full immunity until the middle of June. Exposing unvaccinated residents to additional risk, especially given the inequities in vaccine distribution we’ve seen in DC, seems unnecessary. Even if relaxing indoor-mandates for the vaccinated is consistent with science, it isn’t consistent with where we are right now in DC.

Zeynep Tufekci also weighed in saying, “I agree. I think indoor mandates should be more blanket because selective enforcement is difficult and unwise, but that should be made clearer so that it’s understood why that’s not about vaccine efficacy.” She linked to her The Atlantic piece where this is discussed.

Here’s CDC’s guidance to show where this succeeds and fails

DC Revises Mask Rules Following CDC Guidance. What’s Required Now?

Image by Mr.TinDC licensed under Creative Commons.

THIS POST HAS BEEN REVISED.-Mayor Bowser’s office issued a mask order which it then revised. Read more here.

DC updated its mask rules (essentially amending the mayor’s order which is contemplated by the order itself) this week following CDC’s new guidance. The most significant change from the previous guidance was eliminating the requirement that residents, workers, and visitors “must wear a cloth face covering or mask when outdoors and coming into contact with another person outside of your household, such as being within six (6) feet.” Although some states like Maryland (though not Montgomery County) responded to the CDC guidance to remove outdoor mask mandates except for large events, including on outdoor dining, because it’s difficult to know vaccination status of everyone, it appears DC used the same rationale (it’s difficult to know vaccination status of everyone – less than 1/3 are fully vaccinated) to keep the rest of the outdoor mandate.

Still, because the rules that now exist are a patchwork of the original mayor’s order, the new DC Health guidance (sometimes couched as a requirement, sometimes couched more as guidance/recommendation) on masks and fully vaccinated people; and the other DC Health guidance, I thought it would be helpful to put this in a bulleted list. Italics refer to something not explicit in guidance but I feel is a logical extension.

Not Required to Wear a Mask

  • Actively eating, drinking or legally smoking
  • Vigorous outside exercise socially distant
    • Likely redundant
  • Walking (solo or w/ household) if fully vaccinated
  • Running (solo or w/ household) if fully vaccinated
  • Biking (solo or w/ household) if fully vaccinated
  • Roller-skating/rollerblading (solo or w/ household) if fully vaccinated
  • If not fully vaccinated, when leaving residence when not likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within 6 feet of another person
  • In the water at a pool
  • In a work shower or any authorized locker room
  • In enclosed private office
  • Giving speech (no one within 6 feet)
  • Speaking/translation for deaf/hard of hearing
  • If equipment for a job precludes wearing of mask
  • Performers at restaurants/entertainment venues if mask hinders performance (e.g., singer or instrument played through mouth
  • Visiting an uncrowded park or playground with members of household

If you’re Not fully Vaccinated (NOTE: not recommended if you’re high risk)

  • Small, casual outdoor gathering w/ family/friends if everyone who is not fully vaccinated is from your household

If you’re fully vaccinated

  • Small casual outdoor gathering w/ family/friends (including people you don’t normally socalize with)
  • Small casual indoor gathering in private setting (unless higher risk unvaccinated people present or unvaccinated people from multiple households

Required to Wear Mask

  • Inside establishments open to members of public such as
    • Businesses (restaurants, stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, hotels, barbershops, salons, spas)
    • Office buildings
    • Places of worship
    • Gyms
    • Museums, libraries
    • Movie theaters, including during the movie
      • Except for limited purpose and time of period necessary to consume food and beverages
  • In common areas of apartments/condos/co-op
  • Riding in
    • Taxi
    • Ride-share
    • Public transportation
  • Schools, school busses, and in any school-related activities
  • Construction site workers and visitors
  • Performers at restaurants/entertainment venues unless mask hinders performance (singer or instrument played through mouth)
  • Restaurant staff while working (indoor or outdoor)
  • Restaurant patrons while not eating or drinking (indoor or outdoor)
    • While ordering food
    • Prior to being served
    • After completion of meal (New in ABRA regulation: when tables have been cleared but before leaving)
    • When waiting in line outside of establishment
    • When traveling to use restroom              
  • Common area of pools, including pool decks
  • If not excepted above (unclear what this encompasses)
    • When attending a small, outdoor gathering with people outside your household when you’re not the only non-fully vaccinated person
    • Visits to a crowded park or playground
    • Mass gatherings
      • Organized Public events
      • Neighborhood gatherings
      • Festivals
      • Weddings
      • Sporting events as fans

Note: The Biden administration’s executive order for masking on Federal property is still in effect. As a result, on National Park Service land (National Mall, all the Circles, and many of DC’s parks), masks are required outdoors when “physical distancing cannot be maintained, including narrow or busy trails, overlooks, and historic homes.”

arguably not Required to Wear Mask

These areas seem like could be argued a mask not required, but not 100% clear

  • Walking, running, biking, rollerblading, visiting an uncrowded park/playground with a small group of friends/family when fully vaccinated
  • Walking, running, biking, roller-skating, visiting an uncrowded park/playground with a small group of friends/family when the only non-fully vaccinated people are from your household

Crowdsourced Best Outdoor DC Brunch Spots

DC Harvest Brunch (courtes

A follower wanted to know where to brunch outdoors now that she’s been fully vaccinated. I crowd-sourced via Twitter, the following list:

Mentioned Multiple Times

  • Primrose (Brookland)
    • 11a-2p Sat-Sun
    • reserve on Resy
    • Entrees $15-19 mostly
  • Bar Charley (Dupont)
    • 10a-3p Sat-Sun
    • reserve on Resy
    • Entrees $12-16 mostly
    • Bottomless option: Entrée + bottomless drinks: $31.95 (mimosas & Gansett tallboys), $40.95 (flavored mimosas, bloody mary’s, and draft beer)
  • Little Coco’s (Columbia Heights/16th Street Heights)
    • 11:30a-3p Sat-Sun
    • reserve on Resy
    • Entrees $13-18 mostly
    • Bottomless option: $25.95 Entrée + bottomless mimosas and Gansett lager. Or $15 add-on to pizza/pasta.
    • 2 hr limit
  • Ambar (Barracks Row)
    • 9:30a-3:30p Sat-Sun
    • reserve on OpenTable
    • Bottomless Ambar Experience: $39 anything on brunch menu + bottomless drinks (mimosas including flavored ones & bloody marys)
    • 2 hr limit for brunch
  • Mercy Me (West End)
    • 11a-2:30p Sat-Sun
    • reserve on Resy
    • Entrees mostly $14-18
  • DC Harvest (H Street)
    • 11a-5p Fri-Sun
    • reserve on Tock
    • Entrees $16-21 mostly
    • $25 bottomless mimosas or $28 bottomless bloody mary’s available at all times
    • 2 hour limit for brunch

Mentioned At Least Once

  • Zaytinya, Salt Line, Mintwood Place, Barrel, Jackie, Belga Cae, Shaw’s Tavern, Duke’s Grocery, Mission Dupont, Lulu’s Winegarden, Compass Rose, Beuchert’s/Fight Club, Stable, Le Diplomate, Unconventional Diner, Slash Run

Granville Moore’s Reopens as a Belgian Tavern Thursday April 29th

Granville Moore’s was one of the last spots I went before the pandemic. This is from March 4, 2020

Granville Moore’s, the great Belgian H Street tavern, reopens for dine-in service on Thursday April 29th for the first time since mid March 2020. Since last May, because of limited seating and most importantly the fact that its popular mussels aren’t suited for takeout, the spot has served Italian-American dishes to go as Granville Moore’s Pasta Place. In fact, the owners announced that it would likely have to permanently close in September. Instead, a slimmed-down Belgian menu (with all the favorites) will return by the end of the month, starting Thurs-Sun 5-9p; you can reserve via Resy.

I reached out to Granville Moore’s owners (is this reporting?) who said that the success and positive feedback of the popular monthly mussels nights at the neighboring The Queen Vic (which they also own) coupled with the increasing numbers of fully vaccinated people being more open to indoor dining, convinced them that re-opening could be viable despite limited capacity. The beer list is being re-built right now and will have “some fun stuff” by re-opening. They were concerned about staffing but sounds like familiar faces will be returning to serve. There was no outdoor space pre-pandemic at GM’s but they are actively looking for an outdoor dining space nearby, but still TBD.

DC Denies Church’s Request for Fully Vaccinated Seating With No Social Distancing Because Not Consistent with CDC Guidance

Excerpt from DC HSEMA Waiver Decision

Capitol Hill Baptist Church (6th and A NE), which successfully sued DC government last fall to permit increased capacity for outdoor services, had its waiver request to allow a “COVID-19 Immune section” seating fully vaccinated people at 100% capacity with zero social distancing denied by DC’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA). DC denied the request on Wednesday, April 14th because CDC’s most updated recommendations for fully vaccinated people currently allows them to congregate with others fully vaccinated (and a household that contains unvaccinated people at low risk) without masks and social distancing indoors, but only in a home or in a private setting, not public settings. The Southern Baptist-affiliated church (incorrectly) appears to have interpreted CDC’s recommendations to allow to “gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask” in all settings (although the letter does not say whether masks would have been required in the COVID-19 Immune section). The section would have been in the church’s West Hall, allowing 328 churchgoers.

Barred in DC believes, if granted, this would have been the first use of the so-called “Vaccine Passport” in DC. Note that in NY proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test has been frequently used for admittance for fans to sporting events, but seating is still socially distant and masks are required.

DC did grant the church’s waiver request to allow 500 people indoors (110 outside) in 7 different sections for their “Non-Immune Seating” with social distancing (at least 35% capacity, but possibly 45%). This is higher than the Mayor’s order which limits capacity to 25% or 250 persons, whatever is lower.

In October 2020, the church was granted a preliminary injunction from a Federal judge to allow it hold outdoor socially distant services with no capacity limits; DC had limited outdoor gatherings to 100 people. In late November, DC lifted the cap on outdoor service.

Best DC Restaurants/Bars to Eat and Drink Outdoors Right Now

The Brig – February 2021 (picture by author)

Although bars and restaurants have been allowed to serve patrons onsite outdoors since May 29th of last year, many DC residents have shied away from going more than a handful of times (or at all), even outdoors. But now as people get vaccinated, expect the visits to increase. Still, given the pandemic is still not over, people will want to check out outdoor spots which are trying their best to keep people safe and/or have the space that make you feel more comfortable.

Based entirely on crowdsourcing and other research of PoPville comments/replies to other Twitter posts, here’s a partial list of spots people felt were worth visiting. Feel free to leave comments below of spots you feel are doing great personally (or @ on Twitter). If you appreciate content like this, please feel free to join the absolutely-zero-benefits Patreon.

**Contactless (QR code, GoTab) ordering and usually payment to reduce contact with servers for safety reasons

Mentioned Multiple Times

Capitol Hill/Eastern Market/Navy Yard/The Wharf

  • The Roost/Shelter (large wraparound patio)**
  • Trusty’s (small sidewalk cafe, 2nd floor deck is sheltered)
  • The Brig (large beer garden, new streatery)**
  • Atlas Brew Works Navy Yard (large beer garden along relatively slow traffic street, sometimes pedestrianized)
  • Cantina Bambina (outdoor open air waterfront bar)
  • The Salt Line (big outdoor space near water)
  • Others Mentioned Once
    • Pearl Street Warehouse, Lupo Marino, Walter’s, Bardo, Little Pearl, Rose’s Luxury, Albi, Dacha Navy Yard, Duffy’s, All Purpose Capitol Riverfront, Duck and Peach**, Fight Club**

Petworth/Park View/Columbia Heights/Mt Pleasant/Brightwood Park

  • The Midlands (large beer garden)
  • Saint Vincent (large wine backyard garden)**
  • Jackie Lee’s (sidewalk cafe)
  • Others Mentioned Once
    • Wonderland Ballroom, Queen’s English, Makan, Purple Patch, Hook Hall

Shaw/U Street/Bloomingdale

  • All Souls (big side patio)
  • Lulu’s Winegarden (great streatery, front patio, and bucolic back patio)**
  • Calico (huge bi-level patio)**
  • Compass Rose (gorgeous streatery)
  • Le Diplomate (great single party stalls in streatery)
  • Ivy and Coney (outdoor roof deck. limited seating, walls)
  • Electric Cool-Aid (frozen drink and canned beer garden)
  • The Royal (streatery)**
  • Tiger Fork (streatery)**
  • Others Mentioned Once
    • Pearl Dive,** Pub and the People, Bresca, Dacha Beer Garden, Rebel Taco**, Estadio**

Dupont/Adams Morgan/West End/Penn Quarter/Georgetown

  • Iron Gate (gorgeous interior courtyard patio)
  • Others Mentioned Once
    • Rasika West End, Annabelle, Lapis, Himalayan Heritage, The Green Zone, Tail Up Goat, Chez Billy Sud, Zaytinya, Jaleo, Oyamel, Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, Across the Pond

NoMa/Union Market area/Ivy City/Brookland

  • Other Half Brewing (lots of outdoor space)
  • Red Bear Brewing (multiple outdoor patios)
  • St. Anselm (single party stalls in streatery)
  • Dew Drop Inn (outdoor deck and lots of seating in lane set below street)
  • Others Mentioned Once
    • Right Proper Brookland, Primrose, Atlas Brew Works Ivy City, Brookland’s Finest, Wundergarten

Georgetown/Glover Park/Tenleytown/Cathedral Commons

  • Others Mentioned Once
    • Chez Billy Sud, La Piquette, Surfside, Guapo’s Tenleytown

Where to Watch March Madness in DC – 2021

Fake logo

March Madness 2021 (aka the NCAA Men’s Basketball Division 1 tournament) is upon us, after a sad cancellation last year, this time in a strange way befitting this time. All 67 games are in Indianapolis or nearby and the first wall-to-wall 32 game first round is Friday and Saturday (pushed back a day), with second round Sunday and Monday.  See TV schedule and bracket here.

To help you figure out where to watch, I’m focusing on DC-proper spots that will be open by noon on Friday (some 11a or 11:30a), plus have at least 3 outside TVs and/or have at least 4 TVs (otherwise what’s the point). Let me know if you have any additional suggestions. Unfortunately DC’s alcohol 10p curfew isn’t extended back to midnight Monday so many spots won’t be able to show all games for first round. My goto DC March Madness (basement feels Vegas-ish vaguely) spot Penn Social is sadly not open)

At Least 3 Outdoor TVs

  • The Brig (Barracks Row)
  • The Admiral (Dupont) (not confirmed open noon Friday)
  • The Midlands (Park VIew)
  • Lou’s City (Columbia Heights)
  • Ivy and Coney (Shaw; reservation only)
  • Cleveland Park Sports Bar & Grill
  • Penn Quarter Sports Tavern
  • Public Bar (Dupont)
  • Walter’s (Navy Yard)
  • Dirty Water (H Street)
    • $28 Bud Light Mega buckets (8 16 oz alum bottles), $24 Cisco Pitchers, $24 Bud light Seltzer Buckets (5 12 oz cans), $24 mixed drink pitchers. Mandatory bucket or pitcher purchase per table per hour

Other Spots (many have some outdoor space/TVs)

  • The Roost (Cap Hill-if you get a good outdoor space you can see several indoor TVs)
    • Roost Madness. order 16 specific dishes during tourney get $20 credit. 1 winner gets $100 credit
  • The Game (Adams Morgan)
  • Dock FC (Ivy City; open garage doors)
  • Across the Pond (Dupont)
    • $1 wings / $3 sliders / $5 apps / beer specials
  • The Bottom Line (Downtown)
  • Stadium Sports (Navy Yard)
  • Buffalo Wild Wings (Navy Yard)
  • The Big Stick (Navy Yard)
  • Proper 21 (downtown)
  • Proper 21 K Street (West End)
  • Stoney’s (Logan Circle)
  • Church Hall (Georgetown)
    • $8 Liters of Narragansett / $10 liters of Church Hall IPA / $6 ultimate nachos
  • Franklin Hall (U Street)
  • Trusty’s (Cap Hill)

DC’s Vaccine Portal – What Went Wrong and What is Coming Next

it

Last week (Thu-Fri Feb 25-27, tens of thousands of DC residents (and some non-DC residents) were frustrated and angry after 3 straight days of DC”s COVID vaccine registration portal was plagued with crashes and errors. Last night (Thu March 4), the DC Council’s Committee on Health held a marathon oversight hearing, with over two hours devoted to the vaccine rollout to get some answers about what went wrong and the pre-registration portal coming soon. I encourage you to watch the hearing yourself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URIc6lhNJvs&feature=youtu.be if you’re interested, starting at the 9 hour mark, with relatively detailed testimony from DC’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) Chief, Lindsey Parker, starting at 9:30.00 or so, but here’s a quick paraphrase of what we learned:

Portal to Date

  • DC Health approached OCTO in September 2020 to build a vaccine scheduling/administration portal. OCTO decided to contract this out instead of using limited manpower to build out self, and was already familiar with Microsoft’s recent COVID-work since they had helped launch a public COVID testing site in March in very short order. Contract was an emergency procurement based on the public health emergency, so no competition required and can be done quickly. DC was the first jurisdiction in the country to sign on to Microsoft’s product; at the time that occurred, Microsoft hadn’t yet created a pre-registration product. There were no budget constraints on OCTO/DC Health to create the portal and they expect to be reimbursed by Federal government once the new bill is passed later this month.
    • [Author’s Note: I think a lot of people will be angry about the fact that this project didn’t start until September 2020. I expect the media and Council to press more about this. Based on my sense, I don’t think the product would have been any better if it had started in March or not; also Federal govt was developing its own system and no one knew exactly how it would be administered until later on so creating a system just on a guess would cause just as many problems as it would solve. But I could be wrong]
  • Portal launched in December 2020. As part of the contract, Microsoft is responsible for testing. Since the portal launched in December, there has been 16 versions created. There has not been any public testing by Joe Schmoe or seniors prior to launching, so they have been reactive to feedback.
  • On February 18th portal was open for priority zip codes for seniors and other essential workers (including grocery store workers). The peak had 62 users with 2000 requests (clicks/refreshes) during the peak 5 minute window. 100,000 clicks/refreshes in the hour it was open. No errors occurred.
  • On Feb 25th, the portal was now supposedly open for priority zip codes, not only seniors but with 18-64 with chronic conditions. The number of distinct users during peak went from 62 the week before to 8,780. The number of requests (clicks/refreshes) during the peak 5 minute window went up 27400% to 550,000 and 6500% for the full hour to 1.32 million attempts (up 6500%). Microsoft was not expecting this increase and there was an extreme bottleneck. System worked to identify if traffic was legitimate which slowed system tremendously. Once traffic speed was restored, they realized Microsoft forgot to update the workflow to include 18-64 (“Tired eyes missed that workflow”). This was updated at 9:51 and appointments were closed by 9:54.
  • Microsoft then assured OCTO that they improved their infrastructure for Friday’s wider rollout. They were wrong.  The number of distinct users went up to 20,202, with 1.2 million clicks/refreshes during peak 5 minutes and 7.38 million during the hour (459% increase from Thursday). Again there was extreme bottleneck as service protection limits again were invoked (to protect from bot that trying to take system down) which then triggered slow site as well as errors for 13% of clicks.
  • For 3rd time on Saturday, there was a new registration opportunity for 18-64 with conditions only in priority zip codes with next week’s appointments. Once again Microsoft reassured they had enough capacity. Again they were wrong. Apparently they had fixed the issue but Microsoft’s development team “cleared the cache” right before it opened and with the heavy traffic, the portal froze again, and had to restart the system. It was down for 15 minutes. Peak 11,247 users, 800,000 clicks/refreshes in 5 minutes and 3.8 million in the hour. Whopping 1.6 million errors (44% of all clicks/refreshes).
  • Finally, Microsoft higher level folks fixed the portal this week and yesterday a waiting room was instituted and the captcha was removed (other security features on backend to replace it). The site handled roughly the same number of unique users and number of hits as the previous Thursday with no errors and no issues with the site (all appointments taken in less than 7 minutes)
  • OCTO and Microsoft seemed to have had correctly anticipated a huge number of new sign-ups (it wasn’t clear but it seemed system could handle 100,000 unique users at once), but per Parker, they did not expect “millennials” to use every browser on their computer/phone/tablet at once continuously refreshing, as well as asking friends from across the country to assist.

Pre-Registration System

    • To the shock of everyone on the call, the representative from the City Administrator’s office (Jay Melder) said that both Microsoft and Accenture have been asked to develop the pre-registration portal and they have yet to pick which one has been through the right testing, has the right features. This is despite fact that Mayor demonstrated what the portal looked like today at a press conference apparently the Microsoft version though Accenture’s would look similar.
      • [My read: DC’s is making sure Microsoft doesn’t screw up on Friday and want to put their feet to the fire by bringing in a second vendor. I entirely expect Microsoft to be chosen.]
    • It’s not guaranteed that there will be a pre-registration portal Monday or even next week at all (note that originally the pre-registration wasn’t supposed to open until mid March).
    • As noted by others, pre-registration will allow DC residents or workers to submit their information and then wait for DC Health to invite them to make an appointment. Invitation will come through email, text, and/or phone call. Will be able to list a 3rd party who can register on your behalf.
    • Dr. Nesbitt botched an answer at the press conference-all DC residents and DC workers will be able to register when the site opens live even if they’re not eligible. Ineligible workers will not be advantaged with higher priority for booking early though it seems.
    • Once you have the invitation (which will likely be issued in batches on a rolling basis), you’ll have a certain amount of time to book an available appointment. Likely 48 hours. Even if you miss that window or the appointments don’t work for you, you still are kept in the system so you have another bite of the apple.
    • Won’t be based on first come, first serve. The way it seems that it work is that there will be certain % dedicated to each group, and this % will constantly change based on whether groups uptake on the vaccine % changes. There will continue to be a priority for zip codes (or more targeted neighborhood clusters) whose vaccine uptake % is low relative to rest of the city. Within each group there will be some randomization so that person who registers minute 1 doesn’t necessarily get it before the person who registers on Day 3, though obviously the appointment invitations are only filled based on who has registered so far, so it still pays not to delay too much on pre-registering.
      • [Here’s an example I made up that could be the way it works but is not a real example: 10,000 vaccines through portal, (10,000 with hospitals and other places not through portal). 2000 to seniors in priority zip codes/neighborhoods, 2000 to 18-64 with chronic conditions in priority areas, 1000 to eligible essential workers in priority areas. 2000 to seniors in rest of city, 2000 to 18-64 with chronic conditions in rest of city, 1000 to eligible essential workers (DC or not DC resident]
    • OCTO/DC Health didn’t seem to commit to announcing each time the breakdown of what the doses are going but seemed open to it. They said that the current vaccine data would show the prioritization.
      • Note: The system will be pretty opaque which is why DC Health originally preferred the free-for-all system of registration.

Another random note, DC Health this week essentially confirmed my analysis/reporting that the reason why Bloomberg/NYT/Post/Time trackers (which all use the same CDC data show that DC has way more doses than DC Health has is that 40-50,000 doses out of the 280k+ are for Federal entities which DC has no control over (and they’re more likely to stockpile). He said the true % of adminstered/delivered is closer to 80%. Issues with data is lack of reporting, hospitals are holding onto doses a bit longer while community health organizations have reserved more shots for 2nd doses just to be safe.

OCTO also posted some slides about the challenges of government IT.

No Benefits- Become A Barred in DC Patron Today on Patreon

Barred in DC, aside from barely hundred bucks in WordAds ad revenue annually and free preview drinks and food, is more of a hobby than a side hustle from my day job as lawyer. People have always told me I need to monetize it but it seems like even more work and that gets rid of a lot of the appeal for most people.

That all being said, if you’d like to support Barred in DC as a patron, with absolutely no perks other than the satisfaction of parting with a few bucks/month, feel free to join the Patreon here.

What DC Restaurants Supporting the National Guard

Image by Mr.TinDC licensed under Creative Commons.

Up to 21,000 National Guard troops from across the country are expected to be in the DC area by the time of Inauguration Wednesday, with nearly 1/3 here by the end of the weekend. In part due to the viral tweets that showed many of these military reserve soldiers (mostly part-time) sleeping on the floor of the Capitol,  but also due to a sense of appreciation for the protection being provided, many DC restaurants and residents have sought to support these Nat Guard members with meals. (Note: all of these members have in fact lodging at barracks or hotels around the area; the images show the members during their rest/nap breaks during their long 12-24 hour on-duty shifts).

Although the National Guard has stated that it is not in fact accepting donations, it appears that restaurants or others who have a contact with the Guard have been able to provide purchased (supplemented with donations) of meals and food. You may want to support these spots with a donation or a meal purchase for yourself. Here’s a running list of spots who’ve done so (link to donation page if available)

  • We The Pizza (Eater article provides context that shows they’ve coordinated to provide food from the following). Donation link supports donations from all these spots.
    • Good Stuff Eatery (their sister restaurant)
    • PLNT Burger
    • Maketto
    • Breadsoda
    • CHIKO
    • RASA
    • Pizzeria Paradiso
    • RIS
    • Sticky Fingers Eats & Sweets
    • Cane
    • The Duck and The Peach
    • District Doughnuts 
  • Craft Beer Cellar is organizing donations (Venmo hstne-love). So far:
    • Farmbird
    • Tony’s Place
    • The Big Board
    • Pie Shop
    • Bullfrog Bagels
  • Jose Andres/World Central Kitchen (Video here)
  • District Taco

Know of any others? Email barredindc@gmail.com or @barredindc on Twitter

You can also support DC residents in need by checking out my charity guide.