Anupam Nath/AP Photo
Coronavirus testing at D.C.-run sites will be called off tomorrow due to the heat, city officials said.
Anupam Nath/AP Photo
Coronavirus testing at D.C.-run sites will be called off Monday due to high temps, city officials said.
Temperatures are expected to peak in the upper 90s on July 20, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser activated the city's heat emergency plan.
The cancellation applies to all District-run testing locations, including both walk-up and drive-thru sites, said Christopher Rodriguez, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
The city's decision, however, does not apply to other providers that offer testing in the city, such as Bread for the City or Walgreens.
"We have over 100 people that operate the sites wearing full PPE, personal protective equipment," Rodriguez said. "And we want to make sure, if there are lines, people aren't waiting outside in the heat because it will be extreme."
D.C. also has had trouble protecting testing samples from the heat in the past. In June, 407 testing samples taken at Judiciary Square and Anacostia testing sites were rendered unusable due to heat exposure.
Concerns about damaged samples are not a factor in canceling Monday's testing, a HSEMA spokesperson tells DCist. The decision was purely based on the potential of dangerous heat.
Since the heat exposure issues in June, the city had strengthened guidance around storage and transportation of samples "to make sure that doesn't happen again," said the spokesperson.
Bowser's office says residents should contact their private health care providers if they are in need of a test Monday.
Widespread testing has continued to be a challenge for the city. The city has made efforts to make testing more accessible, and since last month, Mayor Muriel Bowser has continually said that anyone in need of a test can get one by going to a number of District-run free testing sites.
However, besides just the summer heat, reports of long lines, continuously delayed or even lost test results, and testing sites not being more equitably dispersed throughout the city hampering efforts.
Temperatures in the high 90s are possible for the next several days, and Bowser has activated the heat emergency plan from Saturday through Wednesday.
So far, the city has only decided to cancel testing on Monday, but Bowser's press secretary Susana Castillo says that officials are monitoring the heat conditions in the coming days.