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Mayor Bowser and DC Health Release the District of Columbia COVID-19 Pandemic Health and Healthcare Recovery Report

Friday, July 23, 2021

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, with end of the District’s public health emergency approaching on Sunday, July 25, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health, led by Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, released the District of Columbia COVID-19 Pandemic Health and Healthcare Pandemic Recovery Report, a framework for the recovery and development of the District’s health ecosystem.

“Since the earliest days of this pandemic, our community has worked together to protect each other and crush the virus. Now, we have the opportunity to build a new and better normal and attack longstanding disparities in health outcomes,” said Mayor Bowser. “As we recover strong, let’s keep working together to build a healthier, more equitable DC.”

With a focus on equity, the report provides an assessment of the District’s current and emerging health needs while offering solutions for improving DC’s health system in five domains: workforce, healthcare facilities, health information technology, health planning, and community health services.

“The challenges, experiences and disparate outcomes of the pandemic in the District, has, if nothing else, underscored the necessity to apply an equity informed, structural analysis to our work going forward,” said Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, Director, DC Health. “DC Health, as the city’s chief health strategist, is utilizing this framework in an effort to not return to the ‘pre-pandemic’ normal, but to apply lessons that we are continuing to learn and increase public health capacity to meet our vision of DC being the healthiest city in America.”

District residents and families, like many across the nation, have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency and continue to face long-lasting effects. The report addresses potential population health concerns as a result of the pandemic, including delayed and preventative and chronic disease care; long-term effects of COVID-19 infection; economic impact and job loss; mental health stress, social isolation, trauma, and grief; and loss of academic, social, and emotional growth in children.

Many policies, procedures, and operations of the healthcare system were altered and continue to be altered to address the rapid surge and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there was a necessary shift to the use of virtual environments for health systems planning and how people access care through telehealth, assisted telehealth, or home-based models. The plan emphasizes that the healthcare ecosystem should continue to embrace these changes to deliver care to District residents when, where, and how they want to receive it. Other recommendations include addressing health literacy among District residents in a more substantial way; engaging in strategic partnerships that accelerate public health priorities; and integrating disparate health data systems to keep a pulse on various public health indicators in the District.

Read the full report at