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DC mayor to order mandatory masks as infections rise again

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By ASHRAF KHALIL Associated Press/BNC Contributor 

WASHINGTON (AP) — With coronavirus cases rising, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday that she will issue an executive order making face masks mandatory outside the home — an unprecedented step in the nation’s capital.

Bowser said the order would include “enforcement language” detailing possible fines for violations.

After saying they had successfully blunted the infection curve earlier this summer, health officials say the infection numbers have slowly crept upward, reaching triple digits on Wednesday for the first time in weeks.

Health Department Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt says her office is particularly concerned with data that shows most new infections aren’t coming from people already in quarantine or on the contact trace list of an infected person. That, she said, indicates a high level of community spread.

The rising infections come in the midst of a heat emergency which forced several outdoor testing sites to close this week as daily temperatures reach the upper 90s.

Washington entered phase 1 of its reopening plan on May 29 and entered phase 2 on June 22. Bowser said she doesn’t believe that the city entered phase 2 too early and the plan was built with flexibility in mind. She hinted that smaller targeted closures and rollbacks may be coming.

“We’ve always said this — that we can dial up activity or we can dial back activity” she said. “We will spend some time looking at all levels of activity and seeing what we need to dial back.”