17 Nov 2020


Hill Buzz

Another week, another dismal statistic: We are in a worse place today than we were back in April. So prepare for a COVID-19 edition of the Hill Buzz.

Yesterday, the Mayor held a status update, where she shared the latest statistics and concerns on the coronavirus in our region. You can see the official statistics by clicking here. The most worrisome of these statistics is the ones boxed in red, where you can see that there is an average of almost 20 new cases of coronavirus per day, and the rate of transmission above 1.0– a rapid spread (visit RTlive for more info).

As a reminder, phase two hinged on the R number being below 1.0 – a metric later changed to 1.2, as Allison Hrabar pointed out today on Twitter.

Illustration via coronavirus.dc.gov

Incidentally, if you haven’t read Allison’s excellent discussion of how the District has, in essence, changed the goal posts of what’s acceptable in terms of community transmission, do it (The Drift). It’s not an enviable position for the District government to be caught between an economic and a public health crisis, but this also feels less than transparent:

The ideal transmission rate of “less than one” suddenly became “less than 1.2,” the cap for hospital occupancy was raised from 80 percent to 90 percent, and the number of people with positive test results that had to be called by contact tracers within a day was lowered from 90 percent to 80 percent. 

What has the coronavirus done to us? Well, the luxury rental market has all but stalled (Washington Post) and many people have left the area altogether, to be closer to family or to be away from the dread of being around people, while some have happily moved in (DCist). Washingtonian has more tales of people moving out here and of people moving in here. Maybe the pandemic will force people to reckon with the things that mean the most to them and bring about a new balance to people’s lives.

Unfortunately, it seems the pandemic also brings out the worst in people, as workers from CBG Construction have found out. CBG Construction and their subcontractors appear to have stolen wages from workers at several projects. A class action suit was brought up in August of this year. CBG Construction’s portfolio includes properties such as the Flats at Atlas, 360 H Street, 501 H Street NE and Kennedy Row on East Capitol Street. DCist

Another company also being caught betraying the public trust is Capitol Petroleum, owner of three Exxon stations on Capitol Hill among other properties. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a complaint against Capitol Petroleum for price gouging during the pandemic and for unfairly increasing profits on gas distribution, and you can read it here.

In school news, the CARES classrooms are starting this week at several schools around the District. In Ward 6, Brent, J.O. Wilson, Miner, Payne, School-Within-School, and Walker-Jones are the only schools currently open for CARES. Councilmember Elissa Silverman tried to introduce emergency legislation to ensure that schools should only reopen when it’s safe and with a transparent timeline, but the legislation was not allowed in for discussion during yesterday’s legislative agenda.

In crime-related news, some “rock-throwing youths” meant business when, while they were bullying another youth, they also flashed a knife at a neighbor questioning their behavior. The incident happened in the 900 block of 11th Street NE. Yes, these kids are violent and I can’t imagine how scary the situation must be, but it begs the question, how have we failed these kids and their families, that they think senseless violence is the only way to engage with the community? Washington Post

(Self-congratulating for not referencing “My Cousin Vinny” until now.)

The National Review is still trying to convince whoever will listen that the activists who called for taking down the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park were very, very wrong. Okay then, but one has to wonder how things would have gone if a more all-encompassing Emancipation Memorial design by Harriet Hosmer hadn’t been so expensive to produce. Thank you to Ford’s Theater for the more nuanced history lesson, as it ought to be. Excited to see that they will be producing three anti-racism plays this coming season, to further their mission toward shedding light on, and ending, racial injustices.

In the midst of all this sadness, how about focusing on something happy? Working on a #lightuptheHill map for your viewing and socially-distant visiting pleasure! Reader @cd.in.dc tagged us in this lovely photo of someone who knows we need a little light in all this darkness. Tag us in your photos #thehillishome for a chance to be featured!

In restaurant news, the space formerly known as Emilie’s is rebranding as Paraiso Taqueria. I chatted briefly with the Paraiso team via Instagram and they tell me that the new concept will be based around childhood memories of a Mexican town fair. The new chef, Geovanny Beltrán, is from the state of Guerrero, in Mexico, and he will be developing a menu that “tells their story through the food they grew up with and know from home. They are the true heroes of the restaurant industry.” There will be tacos, ceviches and more robust offerings such as lamb shank, as well as a Mexican bakery with conchas, churro doughnuts and tres leches cakes. As a reminder, the new Paraiso is at 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Follow them along on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes shots.

Let’s end today’s buzz on a (bitter)sweet note: Sean Doolittle and his wife, Eireann Dolan, share their Dream Day in DC with The Washington Post. Doolittle is now a free agent and he’s relocated to Arizona, but we hope that he and Eireann always calls DC (and, well, the Hill) homeNaturally, our local bookstores –starting with Capitol Hill Books– get a lot of love in this Dream Day. Right now, a Dream Day for me would be one where people stop getting sick and dying of COVID.

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