District of Columbia to Shut Down COVID Centers

March 3, 2023 by Dan McCue
District of Columbia to Shut Down COVID Centers
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser wears a face mask to protect against the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, as she leaves a news conference on the coronavirus and the district's response, Monday, July 20, 2020, in Washington. In the face of newly rising infection numbers, Bowser says she'll issue an executive order making face masks mandatory outside the home. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — In yet another sign that the COVID crisis is largely over, DC Health announced Friday that it will be closing the COVID Centers it opened around the city during the pandemic on Friday, March 31.

The decision to close the COVID Centers came after the district experienced a significant drop in COVID-19 cases, high vaccination uptake, and an increase in the availability of vaccines and testing kits for at-home use, the agency said in a press release.

It noted that similar actions are being taken at the federal level and by other jurisdictions around the nation. 

The COVID Centers were established in January 2022 to provide residents with free and easy access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing and masks at the height of the pandemic. 

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at the time that with the opening of the centers in every ward of the city, “We are doubling down on our commitment to equity and accessibility and ensuring we have the systems in place to support a long-term response that can be dialed up or down and quickly modified to meet our community’s needs.”

At the peak of the pandemic, the centers were open six days a week, as late as 9 p.m., and days off were rotated so D.C. residents always had access to a center nearby.

Over the course of their existence, the district’s COVID Centers distributed more than 1 million free face masks; more than 80,000 doses of COVID-19 and flu vaccines and COVID boosters; over 400,000 rapid antigen COVID testing kits; and nearly 40,000 PCR tests.

DC Health said that while the COVID Centers are closing, residents will still have convenient options to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, booster or test kits, as needed.

These include through local retailers and pharmacies. In addition, covid.gov/tests offers free at-home COVID-19 tests; testinglocator.cdc.gov directs people to a local free testing location; and vaccines.gov directs people to a local free vaccination site.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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