Washington, DC will reinstate an indoor mask mandate beginning Tuesday, December 21, until the morning of January 31, Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Monday.
The mayor added that all employees, contractors and grantees of the District of Columbia government must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must have a booster shot. There will be no test-out option, the mayor said. There was no deadline specified for the vaccination guidance.
U.S. health officials urged Americans to get booster shots, wear masks and be careful if they travel over the winter holidays, as the Omicron variant raged across the world and was set to take over as the dominant strain in the United States.
The government is gearing up for the next phase of battle in a two-year fight against a virus that has killed 800,000 people in the United States and disrupted every aspect of daily life.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the number of Omicron cases will rise steeply in the next two weeks.
“A big message for today is if you’ve had vaccines and a booster, you’re very well protected against Omicron causing you severe disease. So, anybody listening to this who’s in that 60 percent of Americans who are eligible for a booster but haven’t yet gotten one: This is the week to do it. Do not wait,” he said.
Omicron is multiplying rapidly, making COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots more crucial than ever, chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday. Currently, 27 percent of U.S. residents have not gotten even a single dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.