Brooke's Briefing: Vote 2020, Unemployment Insurance Update, School Reopening, and Contact Tracing

Posted by
Emmanuel Brantley
October 29, 2020
Councilmember Brooke Pinto, Ward 2

Opening Remarks

Dear Neighbor,

Over the last several months, residents, advocates, and policy makers across our city have worked very hard to raise awareness about the upcoming elections and encourage civic engagement.

From mailing paper ballots to each registered voter, placing ballot drop boxes across the city, and expanding hours and access to early voting centers, many steps have been taken to ensure that every ballot can be cast in a safe, socially distant, and timely manner.

If you are registered to vote, you can still make your voice heard on or before Tuesday, November 3. On the ballot there are candidates for the District of Columbia State Board of Education, members of the DC Council, and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. At the national level, there are nominees for the United States House of Representatives and the Office of the President.

This year’s elections are also particularly symbolic. In 2020, we commemorated two very important anniversaries. The first being the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices against racial minorities, and the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women in the United States the right to vote. Voting is a way to honor of the women and men who curated those historic achievements, and to further our current efforts to address racial and gender inequality in this country.

If you or anyone that you know is having difficulty casting their ballot or confirming their voter registration status, please do not hesitate to contact the District of Columbia Board of Elections at 202-727-2525 or call our office at 202-724-8058 for assistance.

Lastly, please do not forget that October is Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness month. As we honor the many survivors who have overcome various situations, let us encourage and support those around us who may be facing difficult situations. To identify available resources for breast cancer and wellness, contact the Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives at 202-442-8150. For matters related to domestic violence, you may contact the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence at 1-800-537-2238.

Yours in Service,


Pinto in the Press

“D.C. Must Ban Gay and Trans Panic Defense” – In an Opinion Editorial published in the Washington Blade earlier this month, Councilmember Pinto addressed the need to ban the panic defense legal strategy that has brought harm to the LGBTQIA+ community in a court of law. Councilmember Pinto also shared that the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee would move legislation to achieve this before the end of the year and discussed ways that she would work to eradicate the culture of transphobia and homophobia. Click here to read the full opinion.

In the Community

Councilmember Pinto’s Official Website Is Live: Councilmember Pinto is proud to announce the launch of her official website, All residents, visitors, and businesses looking for information on resources in Ward 2, frequent legislative updates, and special announcements are encouraged to visit. Please share the website with those who you think it can help. We’ll see you there!

School Re-Openings in the District: On Friday, the Council held a roundtable discussion with the Chancellor Lewis Ferebee on the District of Columbia Public School's (DCPS) proposed return to the classroom. In-person instruction is optional for parents and students, and it will resume for students who are in grades PK3-5. Priority need will be given to students who may be experiencing homelessness, designated as at-risk, are English language learners, or are students receiving special education services. Student CARE classrooms will also be offered. In this model, students will work from a school building under the supervision of a caring adult who is not their teacher. Students will complete lessons virtually on a computer but will also have the benefit of learning with their peers. For more information on the return to in-person learning, view the official proposal here or click here to view the roundtable discussion. Last week’s roundtable was limited to government witnesses, but if you would like to submit your thoughts on the return to in-person instruction, please email your written testimony to All public testimony will be added to the official hearing record until 5pm on Friday, November 6, 2020. Councilmember Pinto continues to press DCPS to ensure that there can be a safe return to school for both students and teachers.

George Washington University to Host Virtual Forum on Spring Semester: George Washington University has scheduled a Virtual Forum for Neighbors tomorrow, Friday, October 30, from 9:00-10:00 a.m. Members of the university team will discuss plans for the upcoming spring semester regarding virtual learning and housing and answer questions. To register, visit

Halloween Safety Tips: This Saturday, October 31, District residents and visitors will celebrate Halloween. While this time should be fun for people of all ages, it is very important that everyone - children and adults alike - remain safe. DC Health has provided detailed guidance on how individuals and families can safely enjoy the holiday during the current pandemic and avoid health risks. To read more DC Health's guidance, click here. The Metroplitan Police Department (MPD) has also provided safety tips for individuals wishing to go trick-or-treating in their neighborhood. Please note that MPD-sponsored events are also held in each of the seven police districts. For safety tips, visit the MPD Halloween Safety Tips page here. To learn more about the MPD-sponsored events, click here.

Legislative Update

Councilmember Pinto Introduces the Medical Necessity Restroom Act of 2020: On October 19, Councilmember Pinto introduced B23-0986, the Medical Necessity Restroom Act of 2020. This bill will require the Department of Health to develop a standard identification card to be used by an individual with an eligible medical condition for toilet facility access and to make the identification card available to the public on the Department of Health's website. This legislation will help those District residents (about 1.3% of adults in the United States) who suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), who often need sudden and urgent access to a toilet facility. IBD is an ongoing autoimmune disorder of the gastrointestinal tract that causes swelling of the intestines, intense pain, and diarrhea. The condition makes it difficult for IBD sufferers to lead a full life and be out of their house or workplace. The bill also provides toilet facility access to pregnant women. For more information, please see our most recent press release here.    

In Case You Missed It:

  • Unemployment Benefits Have Been Extended for Another 7 Weeks: The Council recently voted to extend unemployment benefits by another seven weeks for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) recipients and traditional Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants. This extension was made possible by additional federal funding received by the District. Workers should know that this benefit is not automatic. In order to receive an extension, UI claimants will need to apply. For more information, please see this press release from Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. If you need assistance with unemployment benefits, please reach out to my office at 202-724-8058.
  • Extension of the Streatery Program and Insurance Waiver Program through December 2021: The Office of Risk Management (ORM) announced that burdensome insurance increases would be postponed to December 2021 allowing restaurants, sidewalk cafes, streateries, and other public spaces used for retail and food and beverage services to operate This extension comes following the passage of B23-0942, the Revised Streatery and Pop Up Locations Programs Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2020, legislation that Councilmember Pinto co-introduced alongside Councilmember McDuffie to extend the District's restaurant streatery program through December 31, 2021. Councilmember Pinto continues to work with ORM, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), and the Executive to find creative ways to help businesses start down the road to economic recovery in a safe and responsible manner.


Election Update: The general election is less than one week away and takes place on Tuesday, November 3! Please read this announcement carefully to ensure that your voice can be heard.


By this point, all registered voters should have received a mail-in paper ballot that they have the option of filling out. Paper ballots can be returned to any of the ballot drop boxes placed throughout Ward 2 or the entire city.

Ballot drop box locations in Ward 2 include:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 901 G Street, N.W.
  • Georgetown Library, 3260 R Street, N.W.
  • West End Library, 2301 L Street, N.W.
  • Stead Recreation Center, 1625 P Street, N.W.
  • Foggy Bottom/GWU Metro Station, 2301 I Street, N.W.

For a list of ballot drop boxes city wide, please click here. If you would like a mail-in paper ballot and have not received one, have concerns regarding your voter registration status, or have general inquiries regarding the election, please contact the District Board of Elections at 202-727-2525.


Early voting began on Tuesday, October 27 and goes through Monday, November 2. Early vote centers will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Residents may cast their ballots at any early voting center throughout the city. For a full list of early voting centers throughout the District, click here or visit one of the following locations in Ward 2.

  • SUPER VOTE CENTER at Capital One Sports Arena - Concourse Area, 601 F Street, N.W.
  • School Without Walls at Francis Stevens – Gymnasium, 2425 N Street, N.W.
  • Hardy Middle School – Gymnasium, 1819 35th Street, N.W.


Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. All voting centers will be open at 7:00 a.m. and will close at 8:00 p.m. Residents who plan on voting on election day should plan to be in line before the polls close and prepare for the possibility of longer wait times.

ELECTION DAY WORKERS ARE URGENTLY NEEDED and will be compensated (training will be provided!). All polling locations will adhere to strict social distancing guidelines, will require that everyone wear masks, and will restrict the number of persons indoors at the polling stations. If you are interested in becoming an Election Day Worker, please complete an online application here. For more information, call the BOE Call Center at 202-741-5283 or email

New Mobile App for Contact Tracing Available for Android and iPhone Users: Last week, DC Health launched a voluntary app that will notify those who have come into close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. All iPhone users who have completed the latest operating system upgrade do not need to download any applications, however. After completing the update, iPhone users can visit the general settings tab labeled "Exposure Notifications" and set up alerts. All Android users will need to download the DC CAN app and follow the prompts. Everyone is encouraged to use a notification system to aid contract tracing efforts and help to reduce the spread of the virus. For more information on the new mobile app, visit

Supporting Our Neighbors During Thanksgiving: The Outreach Ministry at St. Luke's Episcopal Church is having a food drive on Sunday, November 8th, 2020, between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Donations of non-perishable items including canned goods, boxed cereals, bags of lentils, boxed mashed potatoes and canned sweet potatoes, canned milk, apple sauce as well as $25 gift cards for Safeway and/or Giant are being accepted.Food items can be delivered to the St. Luke's parking lot, which is located at the corner of 15th and P Streets in Northwest.

Fall Leaf Collection Will Begin on November 9th: This year, the Department of Public Works (DPW) will distribute 20 bags to each household beginning October 30th and allow for an unlimited number of bags for pick up. Due to coronavirus safety concerns, the agency is unable to deploy the large crews needed to operate the leaf vacuums, and residents are asked to bag their own leaves. Because leaf collections are composted, residents should only place the leaves in paper bags. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance bagging leaves, please let us know! Either reach out to Serve DC at 202-727-7925, or call our office for assistance. To read more about leaf collection changes, see this official communcation from DPW here. You can also check out this helpful video shared by Mayor Bowser.

Taste and Shop Georgetown Has Been Extended Through Saturday: Taste and Shop Georgetown has been extended through Saturday, October 31! Residents and visitors alike are invited to participate in and enjoy promotional events featuring over 65 restaurants, shops, and services. For more information, visit

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