DC Schools Closed Until April 27; Mass Gathering Ban Extended

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Public schools in Washington, D.C., will remain closed through most of April, the mayor announced in a dramatic escalation of the District's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools will stay closed until April 27 and the ban on mass gatherings will stay in place through April 25, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Friday afternoon. She said the sweeping measures were necessary.

“We virtually shut down our thriving economy in Washington, D.C., so that we can blunt the curve and get back to regular business just as soon as possible," Bowser said.

Seventy-one people in D.C. have been diagnosed with coronavirus. One person, a 59-year-old man, died, officials announced earlier Friday

Under the emergency ban on mass gatherings that went into place March 13, restaurants and bars can’t have more than 250 customers at once and every table must be separated by at least six feet. Also, bar seating is not allowed, customers can’t be served while standing and no more than six people can be at any table. Nightclubs were ordered to close. 

Multiple members of D.C.’s police department and fire department now have tested positive for coronavirus, sources tell News4. A detective who lives in Maryland is among the patients, health director LaQuandra Nesbitt said Friday.

As of Thursday afternoon, three firefighters had tested positive and 141 firefighters and 70 police officers were self-quarantined. No D.C. officers had tested positive at that point, city officials said.

Anyone who had contact with first responders will be contacted, the mayor said. 

Nearly 12,000 D.C. workers had filed for unemployment benefits as of Friday, District officials said. About 10,000 had applied during the last government shut down. D.C. has made it easier to get unemployment. There’s no waiting period or work-search requirement. Go here to learn how to apply

School officials will cancel standardized testing including the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam. 

The District will add more sites where students can pick up meals. All residents under age 18 can pick up meals at the dozens of sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Go here to see the list of sites. Meal locations for seniors are also listed there. 

The police department requested that citizens call for assistance before walking into stations.

A third D.C. firefighter tested positive for the coronavirus, and dozens of firefighters and police officers are self-quarantined. News4's Mark Segraves reports the case of an elementary school student has not been confirmed.

Every member of the fire department is being checked for “signs and symptoms of illness” when they arrive to work, and their temperatures are being taken before they are allowed into quarters, Chief Gregory Dean said. 

The DC-Area Coronavirus Outbreak in Pictures

Sixty-five inmates were self-quarantined after coming into contact with a U.S. marshal who tested positive.

Two cellmates were quarantined at the D.C. jail. One was tested because of international travel. Those results came back negative.

UPDATE (March 20, 2020, 3:45 p.m. ET): D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser initially said schools will be closed through April 27. Schools will be closed through April 24 and reopen April 27, according to updated information from the mayor's office.

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story. 

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