The allure was tempting: Haircuts were to be had, as was the chance to drink a beer at an outdoor bar after governors in Maryland and Virginia agreed to loosen weekslong lockdown restrictions because of the coronavirus. But unlike other areas of the country that are itching to reopen, wealthy D.C. suburbs in those states are insisting on staying shut down.
The decision follows a longstanding pattern in which the affluent areas bordering Washington, D.C., have acted more in concert with each other and the nation's capital than with their own states.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday extended the city’s stay-at-home order until June 8, citing a continuing increase in COVID-19 cases. Virginia's northern suburbs and Maryland's Montgomery and Prince George's counties are staying shut down for at least the next couple of weeks, citing coronavirus case numbers that are disproportionately higher than in the rest of their states.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that while he is allowing a Phase One reopening for his state on Friday, he also is allowing Montgomery and Prince George's counties to move at their own pace.
Elsewhere in Maryland, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties are following the state and starting Phase One Friday at 5 p.m. Charles County is waiting until May 29 to implement Phase One. Frederick County is partially enacting Phase One Friday, but hair salons, barber shops and houses of worship will have to wait until May 29. Anne Arundel and Howard counties also will implement modified Phase One Friday.
Earlier this week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said his state's Phase One can also begin on Friday. Phase One allows barbershops and hair salons to reopen, as well as limited outdoor seating at bars and restaurants and low-capacity retail shopping.
Northern Virginia, though, will remain at “Phase Zero” with full restrictions still in place for at least two more weeks after the region petitioned for an exemption.
There are other factors at play. Residents of the suburbs have the highest median incomes in the nation, and, in Northern Virginia especially, a large percentage of workers are employed in high-tech and government fields that allow them to easily do their jobs from home, unlike workers in the service economy.
“Northern Virginia is more tolerant of an extension of restrictions because it’s a different economy, different labor market,” said Mark Rozell, a political scientist at George Mason University.
Here’s where we are Thursday in the fight against coronavirus in the D.C. area.
More than 69,000 people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have been diagnosed with the virus. At least 3,033 people have died. Go here to see the data in detail.
D.C. will impose sweeping new face mask requirements starting this weekend, an executive order by the mayor says. As the coronavirus continues to spread, masks will be required whenever anyone is around others for essential business or travel. Masks or face coverings will be required on all public transit.
Food banks are still facing unprecedented demand. Leaders of a nonprofit in Charles County said they’re days away from running out of food.
In Manassas, a mosque set up a drive-thru to hand out meals during Ramadan.
“People, their hours have been cut or they have been furloughed, they’re not sure when they can go back to work. It’s just a really unpredictable time,” a volunteer said.
And here’s just one example of the many people in the D.C. area who are helping others at this difficult time. A company that makes hand cream donated their product to local health care workers.
“Anytime that you can give back and help in your own small way, it brings you tremendous joy,” the owner said.
The Prince George’s County executive is set to address the public at 11 a.m. The Montgomery County executive is scheduled to speak at noon. You can watch live in the NBC Washington app or on NBCWashington.com.