Picture New York City as it is now, but with thousands of federal workers who are responsible for running the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, living there.
This is what health experts and government officials in Washington, D.C., metropolitan area fear is the future of the region. The pandemic hasn’t hit the capital like some other major metro cities, but that little streak of good luck is about to end, they say.
The scenario could have horrible repercussions for the nation, crippling the national response by the federal government on the front lines of fighting the virus.
“A major outbreak among our critical federal workforce could be catastrophic, crippling the national response,” cautioned Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who, along with others, expressed fears that the region could look like New York by Easter.
His colleagues in Washington and Virginia, moved recently to strengthen his state’s stay-at-home mandate designed to slow Covid-19’s spread across densely-populated metro areas.
Leaders in the District sent a letter to President Donald Trump on March 15 requesting a priority location designation for the capital and a federally funded Covid-19 testing site. They’ve grown impatient at the lack of action. Other local needs are similar to large parts of the country. There’s a deficit in personal protective equipment, hospital beds and ventilators — and it’s challenging to justify stockpiling when the machines are required more elsewhere right now.
“We’ve got 6 million people here that are absolutely crucial to the wheels of government continuing to move, but things are not moving in a good direction,” Congressman David Trone said between calls with local health care professionals. “These urban areas where the majority of our federal workers live will be hit much, much harder. We’ve got to see that coming, and we’ve got to use every day, every week, to help build up the beds, ventilators, (protective equipment), and testing.”