coronavirus

Many in DC Area Venture Out After Some Coronavirus Restrictions Are Lifted

Here’s where we are Monday in the fight against coronavirus in the D.C. area, and how our daily lives continue to be changed

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In Old Town Alexandria, crowds of people strolled along King Street despite the ongoing stay-at-home order. In Warrenton, restaurant patrons enjoyed outdoor seating at 50% capacity. And in Stafford County, churchgoers celebrated Mass without holy water, hymnals or collection plates. 

After parts of Maryland and Virginia lifted some coronavirus-related restrictions on Friday, more people ventured away from home over the weekend. Some heeded warnings to wear masks and keep their distance from others. Others did not. 

Crowds in Old Town Alexandria prompted Mayor Justin Wilson to ask residents and visitors to abide by the stay-at-home order that’s still in place. He asked for patience. 

“We need them to respect those rules,” he said. 

In Warrenton, the town let restaurants set up outdoor seating on sidewalks and parking areas. Customers said they were thrilled to see friends for the first time in months. 

In Warrenton, Virginia, restaurants took their business back into the street. News4's Shomari Stone reports.

And in Stafford County, some churches opened with limits on how many people could participate. St. William of York Catholic Church opened with some pews roped off. Parishioners wore masks and sat far from each other

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Church administrator Neal Armstrong explained how they took Communion. 

“You would receive the Lord, you would step to the side. You would lift up your mask and receive our Lord and then proceed to your seat,” he said. 

Parishioners gladly returned to St. William of York Catholic Church in Stafford, Virginia, on Sunday. News4's Derrick Ward explains how the church has eliminated several traditions for safety.

Here’s where we are Monday in the fight against coronavirus in the D.C. area, and how our daily lives continue to be changed. 

More than 76,000 people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have been diagnosed with the virus. At least 3,275 people have died. Go here to see more of the data.

D.C. has now seen eight straight days of declining community spread of the virus, Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference Monday. Officials want to see 14 days of declines before reopening the city. 

To fill huge city budget gaps caused by the pandemic, Bowser proposed using hundreds of millions in reserve funds and freezing the pay of city workers. A document on the financial plan shows $166 million in reductions to agency budgets, including cutting all pay increases for the city's workforce of about 37,000 people.

“What we have asked our employees is to work with us as the economy comes back,” Bowser said. 

Data from three hospitals in the D.C. area shows that local emergency rooms are seeing dramatically fewer patients than they did a year ago. Emergency visits plummeted at Shady Grove Medical Center, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Virginia Hospital Center. Experts say people could fear they could contract the virus at a hospital. 

"There's really no risk for people going to a hospital. The emergency rooms are actually pretty lightly populated right now, and so the care is available and it is safe,” said Bob Atlas, head of the Maryland Hospital Association.

Three D.C. area hospitals reported a significant drop in emergency room visits during the pandemic. News4's Scott MacFarlane reports.

And now something a little cheerful. George Washington University seniors made the most of their online graduation ceremony

“We’ve really shown our resiliency,” Student Association President SJ Matthews said. 

Seniors at George Washington University watched their graduation ceremony online on Sunday. News4’s Darcy Spencer spoke to the class president who says the graduating amid the pandemic is one more example of how the 2020 class is resilient.

D.C.’s mayor presented a plan for budget cuts earlier Monday. Virginia’s governor is set to speak at 2 p.m. You can watch live on NBCWashington.com and in the NBC Washington app. 

CORRECTION (May 18, 4:45 p.m. ET): A previous version of this story misstated the name of the mayor of Alexandria. 

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