The number of coronavirus cases surpassed the grim milestone of 100,000 confirmed diagnoses in D.C., Maryland and Virginia as millions of residents in D.C. and Northern Virginia watched their neighborhoods begin phase one of reopening.
More than 4,000 people in the region have died from COVID-19, according to health officials' data. Another 200 likely died with the virus, but their illnesses were not confirmed.
The sickened include many first respondents, public servants and other essential workers. Coronavirus has disproportionately spread through communities of color in D.C., laying bare previously existing racial disparities in health care.
But there's hope because many have recovered. D.C. has released over 1,000 people from isolation. Ruby Joyce, from Virginia, missed her 94th birthday party because of her battle with the coronavirus, but she beat the odds to recover.
At the end of March, D.C. area leaders began taking unprecedented and drastic action to help flatten the curve of coronavirus, to slow the spread to stop hospitals from being overwhelmed.
It's been weeks months of sacrifices: By those who lost their jobs or got laid off, by business owners who struggled to survive, by health care workers putting themselves on the front lines.
Health officials say those sacrifices have worked and we're ready to start reopening. New infections are slowing. The hardest-hit county in Maryland, Prince George's, has reduced hospital utilization from around 80% to around 60%.
It's not a day of celebration, however, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser warned.
"It's not a party and we shouldn't treat it like a party otherwise we'll be back to square one," Bowser said. "It's not a day of celebration. It's a day of being able to do some things slowly and on a limited basis."
"We must also remember that we have a special responsibility to protect our most vulnerable neighbors and members of our community," Bowser continued.
On Friday, Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. will start reopening. Residents can sit at an outdoor cafe for lunch, or shop at a boutique again (D.C. only allows curbside or front door pickup). Hairdressers and barbers can get back to work.
Virginia has also put into effect a face-covering requirement. Masks or other cloth coverings must be worn in all public indoor settings.
And some areas are getting creative to help support businesses while maintaining public health.
D.C. Mayor Muriel is looking for opportunities to open "streeteries," or free up sidewalk and road space for more restaurant tables. The Department of Transportation will launch a website so restaurants can apply.
The Town of Vienna, in Virginia, put together a brand-new website to help small businesses, like restaurants, obtain special event permits that will allow them to serve food outdoors.
The Office of Economic Development is also helping restaurants work with their landlords and property owners to turn outdoor spaces like parking lots into short-term dining areas.
Town leaders say it’s all about getting creative to bring vibrancy back to Vienna.
On Monday, Prince George's and Montgomery counties will start their reopening.
Residents are encouraged to wear masks, maintain social distance and frequently wash their hands because the virus is still spreading through communities.