DC Area Takes Sweeping Measures Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

All public schools in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are closed starting Monday, federal workers are given telework options and Metro has reduced service

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Maryland will take "unprecedented" measures to combat coronavirus, including closing restaurants, banning large gatherings, canceling evictions and expanding the state's medical capabilities.

Restaurants can offer carryout, delivery and drive-thru service. Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned. Here are all the details on the state's response.

Restaurants and bars in D.C. also can only offer carryout, delivery and drive-thru service starting 10 p.m. Monday. All of the city's nightclubs are closed.

Health clubs and spas, massage parlors, theaters and other large businesses will close as well, D.C. officials said. Grocery stores will remain open.

The D.C. Council will consider emergency legislation Tuesday.

D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Director Dr. Christopher Rodriguez warned against the kind of panic buying that’s emptying store shelves.

“Resist the temptation to buy more than what you need,” he said.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., and the governors of Maryland and Virginia say they are working together to identify possible sites for drive-through testing for the novel coronavirus and have requested federal support to carry it out.

Mayor Muriel Bowser, Gov. Larry Hogan and Gov. Ralph Northam asked President Donald Trump to designate the National Capital Region as a priority for federally-supported COVID-19 testing sites, in a letter dated Sunday.

They say that the region is home to 6 million residents and "the health of the National Capital Region is a top priority for the continuity of our democratic government and critical to continuing federal government functions."

The three leaders say they have been identifying sites in D.C., Maryland and Virginia where people could get quick, drive-through testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

"Given our extensive planning efforts as a region, we are well-positioned to make the best possible use of federal support for this testing."

Thousands of students across D.C., Maryland and Virginia stayed home Monday after schools closed in an attempt to stymie the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Federal workers have been given maximum telework flexibility and employers across the region have also given employees the option to work from home.

City and health officials hope that keeping people at home will slow the rate of new diagnoses of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Nearly 100 people were already diagnosed in D.C., Maryland and Virginia as of Sunday night. Public and private labs continue to test and new data on infection numbers is expected throughout the day.

Schools are working to ensure that kids who rely on free or reduced lunches still have a meal provided to them. Sixteen schools in D.C. will offer breakfast and lunch. School districts in Maryland and Virginia also have plans.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich also urged young people to take the virus seriously and avoid going to public places where they could give the virus to more vulnerable citizens.

"These are not snow days. This is not time off people are getting so they can have a vacation. … This is really serious," he said. "We really need you to play your role in keeping the community safe."

Many parents are figuring out childcare options for when they have to go to work or telecommute from home.

Shaxina Johnson, who has 6-year-old twin boys, plans to work with her kids at home.

The DC-Area Coronavirus Outbreak in Pictures

"It will be kind of crazy but they're going to get packets from school to work on. They have their tablets. They have their PlayStation. We'll probably just kind of bunker in the house for a while and not go anywhere for the next two weeks," Johnson said.

Starting Monday, Metro will reduce service as it reaches the highest level of its pandemic response plan. Trains will operate every 12 minutes through the day on weekdays. Bus service will run on a Saturday supplementary schedule.

Metro urges anyone who feels sick not to take public transit.

Businesses, especially restaurants, bars and venues, already started to feel the financial squeeze as D.C. area residents decide to practice social distancing and stay home.

Small businesses in D.C. say they are seeing a decline in customers this week. News4's Shomari Stone reports.

Through the weekend, D.C.'s typically packed restaurants and bars faced thin crowds that concerned owners.

"It's kind of been an emotional roller coaster," said Natalie Jayo, manager at Adams Morgan's The Town Tavern. "We're really concerned about Fridays and Saturdays not being as busy."

Sunday afternoon, Bowser announced that dozens of nightclubs must close. Other spots must abide by strict occupancy limits.

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