By Xavier Underwood
Special to the AFRO

Having extended the District of Columbia’s stay-at-home order until June 8, Mayor Muriel Bowser has been battling with a number of businesses and residents disregarding her orders. Bowser’s monitions for wearing facemasks when leaving the house for essential trips have grown substantially in an effort to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases in the nation’s capital, where as of May 18, 7,434 residents had tested positive for the disease.

As those with pre-existing health conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19, its necessary to protect communities where such individuals reside. Most recently, Howard University launched a new test site facility on Benning Road Northeast, in a historically impoverished area of the city.  The university received a $1 million grant to provide COVID-19 testing to these communities that are more-or-less defenseless to the novel coronavirus. Their site receives walk-ins for free coronavirus testing four days a week.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and media mogul Armstrong Williams unload donated masks at the Howard University COVID-19 testing site on Benning Road, N.E. (Photo By XBUNDERWOOD)

In the midst of a citywide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the new facility received a donation of 30,000 protective facemasks from local businessmen Armstrong Williams of Howard Stirk Holdings and Steve Kalifa of Capital Medical Supply. 

“Everyone is suffering during this time, particular underserved communities. I’m just thankful we have the capacity to make a difference in other people’s lives, particularly those who need it most,” Williams said.

Capital Medical Supply’s Steve Kalifa, Howard University Vice President of Clinical Affairs Dr. Hugh E. Mighty, medial mogul Armstrong Williams, Howard University President Wayne Frederick and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser stand in front of boxes of donated masks at the COVID-19 Testing site on Benning Road, N.E. (Photo by XBUNDERWOOD)

Joining Williams and Kalifa to commemorate the large donation, was Mayor Bowser and Wayne Frederick, president of Howard University. Bowser and Williams helped unload the delivery truck, carrying boxes of masks to the facility. 

The masks will be used primarily “in the testing center for the staff who need PPE and as patients come in as well,” said Frederick. 

As Bowser recognized the generous donation, she took the opportunity to remind the public to “please use a facemask.”

Capital Medical Supply’s Steve Kalifa, Howard University Vice President of Clinical Affairs Dr. Hugh E. Mighty, medial mogul Armstrong Williams, Howard University President Wayne Frederick and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser stand in front of boxes of donated masks at the COVID-19 Testing site on Benning Road, N.E. (Photo by XBUNDERWOOD)

“It is very important [to wear facemasks], especially as we approach being able to phase reopen our city,” the Mayor added.

Bowser urged businesses that as they prepare to reopen, they take precautionary measures in finding suppliers of masks for their customers and employees.