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Updates to this file have ended for the day. See this story for the latest developments from Friday.

Here are some of the significant recent developments:

  • Schools in Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church will be closed until mid-April. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all schools in the state to close a minimum of two weeks. D.C. Public Schools will close schools for at least two weeks beginning Monday.
  • Metro will reduce transit service starting Monday to help its workforce stay safe while it begins even more stringent disinfecting of its railcars and buses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The number of local coronavirus cases climbed overnight, with five new cases in Maryland and 12 new cases in Virginia. The District had no new cases.
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in the District, originally scheduled for April 4, has been canceled.
11:09 p.m.
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Live updates end for the day

Updates to this file have ended for the day. See this story for more information and the latest updates Friday on coronavirus in the Washington area.

11:01 p.m.
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59 coronavirus cases reported in the District, Maryland and Virginia

Covid-19 is spreading across the United States, and the Washington, D.C., region is no exception. The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease, made its first appearance in the region on March 5, with three travel-related cases in Montgomery County, Md., a suburb just north of Washington. In the next week, the number of reported cases doubled every 48 hours, spreding to nearly two dozen jurisdictions in and around the nation’s capital.

As of 3 p.m. Friday, 59 cases had been reported in the District, Maryland and Virginia. Read more about each of them below.

10:50 p.m.
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Va. legislator calls for special session on sick-leave bill

On Friday afternoon, Virginia state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Woodbridge) called on Gov. Ralph Northam to call a special session of the legislature to pass sick-leave legislation in light of the pandemic.

Carroll Foy, a likely gubernatorial contender in 2021 to succeed Northam, praised the governor’s “swift, measured and thoughtful response” to the outbreak so far. She urged him to call a special session to pass legislation similar to House and Senate bills that died in the just-concluded regular session, which would have provided public- and private-sector employees five days of paid sick time per year.

She said lack of paid sick leave can “prevent many individuals from taking time off … placing them, and people with whom they come in contact, at heightened risk of exposure.“

"I would hope that we could consider broader and swifter options in light of the pandemic,” Carroll Foy wrote to Northam. “I would also urge you to explore options to hold the special session in a way that ensures physical distance between legislators to limit the further spread of the virus or remotely, if possible.”

10:18 p.m.
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Maryland creates special healthcare enrollment period

People without health insurance in Maryland will have a chance to purchase it starting Monday, as the state opens a special enrollment window because of the coronavirus crisis.

Policies can be purchased through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state’s marketplace that sells individual policies. Many are eligible for subsidies. The policies are normally only available during the traditional open-enrollment period in the fall, but Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered the exchange to over them now.

Two other states hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak, Washington and Massachusetts, have created similar enrollment periods. One-hundred members of Congress have called on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to implement a nationwide enrollment period.

“If Marylanders become sick, then we want them to be able to access the health care they need and get treatment to help keep all of us safe,” said health care activist Stephanie Klapper, with the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative.

The policies will be available until April 15.

9:58 p.m.
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National Parks to remain open

The National Park Service said Friday that national parks will remain open.

The Department of the Interior, which oversees the Park Service, has a Pandemic Influenza Plan that is being reviewed, and should the need arise, it will be updated. State and local public health authorities, in consultation with the CDC, may issue recommendations for specific areas based on local interests.

The latest information will be shared on the National Park Service site.

9:40 p.m.
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New details on coronavirus cases in Virginia

Health officials provided fresh information Friday evening about cases of coronavirus in Virginia that were announced earlier in the day.

One of the two new cases in Fairfax involved a woman in her 40s who had close contact with one of the infected individuals at Christ Church in Georgetown, county health officials said. The woman began experiencing symptoms on March 3 and sought medical care eight days later. County officials said she is isolated at home and doing well.

The second case in the county was a man in his 60s who had contact with a person who works with the Department of Defense. The person had previously been identified as being infected. In the new case, the man began feeling ill on March 5 and was hospitalized six days later. He remains hospitalized.

Another of the Virginia cases occurred in Prince William County, making that the county’s second case. There, a woman in her 60s fell ill after returning from one of the countries heavily affected by covid-19, health officials said. The woman had limited contact with others before she developed symptoms, officials said. She tested positive late Thursday and was hospitalized Friday in stable condition.

In Loudoun County, a man in his 30s has also become infected in what became that county’s third case. County health officials said Friday the source of that man’s illness is still unknown. He remains hospitalized.

In central Virginia, Thomas Franck, the director of the Peninsula Health District said the five new cases in James City County — plus two that were reported Thursday — constitute “a community outbreak of covid-19.”

Four of the new cases are contacts of the two earlier cases, Franck said, in a news release. The fifth case involved a man whose exposure is unknown. Peninsula Health District officials didn’t immediately provide details of any of those infected individuals.

“The fact that one of these cases has an unknown exposure is concerning and is suspicious for community spread,” Franck said in the news release.

9:09 p.m.
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Montgomery County Ride On will be free starting Monday

Montgomery County is suspending fare collection on Ride On buses starting Monday, and riders are being asked to board and exit through the rear doors of buses to reduce contact between passengers and drivers.

Passengers with wheelchairs or others who require the assistance of the lift at the front of the bus can still use the front doors, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation said Friday.

The changes, the latest precautions the bus system is implementing, are meant to create more distance between bus operators and passengers. Buses are undergoing increased daily sanitizing.

Officials say they expect regular service to continue on Ride On and Ride On Extra routes, but the system’s Flex bus service in Rockville and the Wheaton-Glenmont areas will be suspended until further notice.

Ride On is the largest bus system in the Washington region after Metrobus and serves thousands of people daily, covering urban and suburban communities that are not served by Metro.

8:59 p.m.
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D.C. bans gatherings of 250 or more people, expands testing

D.C. health officials said they adopted emergency rules Friday that ban all gatherings of 250 or more people and get-togethers of more than 10 people from populations deemed at risk for covid-19. The ban does not apply to schools, workplaces, residential buildings and health-care facilities.

They also said doctors who determine a coronavirus test is warranted will now be able to send samples to private labs. The labs will be required to share the results with D.C. health officials. The move will allow the city to expand testing, which has been a major bottleneck in tackling the coronavirus crisis.

After facing strong criticism, the Trump administration also announced plans Friday to increase the availability of coronavirus tests and said it would partner with private industry to create drive-through testing centers.

8:56 p.m.
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Fairfax County schools to close until April 10

Fairfax County schools will remain closed until April 10 following the announcement by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Friday that he was ordering all state schools closed for at least two weeks.

Fairfax County schools will be open Monday for students and staff to access their belongings, as well as for staff to provide laptops or other digital devices for students in grades three to eight who do not have access at home.

For staff who work less than 12 months, schools will be closed for at least two weeks. The school district will reassess schools reopening for those staff members after two weeks and will make that decision no later than March 27.

8:23 p.m.
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Shoppers barred from D.C. Costco because of crowds

The scene at the Costco store off South Dakota Avenue in Northeast Washington was chaotic Friday afternoon.

The parking lot was jammed. Cars jostled for parking spaces. Motorists bickered. And the vast lot echoed with the sound of car alarms and rattling shopping carts. Long lines of shoppers with empty carts snaked out the door and down the side of the large building.

One woman with a two-year-old swabbed down her shopping cart with Lysol while she waited. Shoppers on the way out pushed carts laden with cases of bleach, paper towels, food and alcohol.

Tom Cox, of Brookland, suggested that vodka was a good hand sanitizer.

Some people pointed out likely parking spaces to wandering motorists. The store was so crowded that entry was temporarily denied.

One woman blamed President Trump for the situation.

Another blamed the devil.

Another blamed fear of the unknown.

7:53 p.m.
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Md. governor: Coronavirus testing unlikely to meet demand

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Friday afternoon that his state is trying to “ramp up and catch up” to deal with the coronavirus threat and that he doubts the country can expand testing enough to meet demand.

“I don’t believe they can ramp up fast enough,” Hogan, chair of the National Governors Association, said during an interview on MSNBC. He said his focus has shifted from ramping up testing capabilities to bracing for “surges” at emergency rooms and hospitals.

“Frankly, at some point soon we’re not going to be into testing as much, because the hospitals will be overwhelmed and unable to do the tests,” he said. “So we’re looking at: How do we ramp up hospital capacities?”

The governor said he is also evaluating how to take additional precautions in child-care centers, since “large gatherings at day cares is just as dangerous as the schools.”

Medical staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital are getting ready for an influx of cases of the novel coronavirus. (The Washington Post)

On Thursday, Maryland announced that schools will be closed statewide for two weeks starting Monday. The governor also banned all gatherings of more than 250 people, closed the cruise terminal at the Port of Baltimore with minimal exceptions, instructed most state workers to telework and encouraged businesses to have employees work from home.

7:51 p.m.
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Basilica to suspend services

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will suspend public Mass and confession beginning Saturday, the Archdiocese of Washington announced Friday.

The Basilica will live-stream its noon Mass starting Sunday and on following Sundays.

It will remain open daily for private prayer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The cafeteria, gift shop and bookstore will be closed. No tours will be offered.

7:38 p.m.
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D.C. area transit systems weigh cuts

As Metro announced reductions in service beginning Monday, some other transit systems in the region said they also are assessing service cuts for next week.

Concerns about the spread of the virus are having an impact on ridership in systems across the region. Trains and buses are carrying far fewer passengers than a week ago. And the use of transit may be even lower next week as local and federal agencies and private employers encourage workers to telework and commuters to avoid public transportation over fear of the virus.

“VRE is reviewing ridership numbers for the week and monitoring decisions by businesses and federal, state and local agencies to encourage or mandate telework before making any change to our service,” Virginia Railway Express spokeswoman Karen Finucan Clarkson said.

In a message to riders, the Maryland Transit Administration, which runs MARC trains and commuter buses, said it is evaluating conditions and service needs.

“If it becomes necessary, we will adjust service based on guidance and recommendations from the Maryland Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Kevin Quinn, chief of the Maryland Transit Administration. “We recognize the essential nature of MDOT MTA services and will do our utmost to get you where you need to go, to keep our vehicles and facilities clean and safe and to keep you informed of any changes that could affect you.”

Riders are encouraged to follow the agencies’ social media accounts for updates on service changes.

7:17 p.m.
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Metrorail to reduce service beginning Monday

Metro will reduce transit service starting Monday to help its workforce stay safe while it begins even more stringent disinfecting of its railcars and buses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The transit agency said Friday that it is moving into its third phase of its Pandemic Flu Plan, the highest level of response that includes increased disinfecting of cars and buses and ordering all administrative employees to work from home. The frequency of rail service will decrease on weekdays, and Metrobus will operate on a Saturday schedule Monday through Friday.

“This action is taken to maximize social distancing, a required mitigation to slow the spread of the disease,” Metro said in a statement.

Service is being reduced “to help protect employees and customers, and recognizing that many of Metro’s frontline employees are faced with tough choices as they balance work with their family priorities, including caring for children who are home from area schools."

Metrorail’s schedule will shift beginning Monday to:

* Monday-Saturday: Trains will operate every 12 minutes on each line throughout the day.

* Sunday: Trains will operate every 15 minutes on each line.

Metrorail’s opening and closing times during the week will remain the same, Metro said. Metrobus’s weekend schedules will not change.

“The service reduction also allows for additional disinfecting of railcars and buses, including the use of electrostatic fogging on a weekly basis across Metro’s fleet of 1,200 railcars and 1,500 buses,” Metro said. “The electrostatic process addresses inaccessible surfaces in the vehicle, such as air ducts and compartments.”

Metro said it is suspending its Rush Hour Promise guarantee until regular service is restored. The guarantee gives commuters credits if their peak-hour rail rides were delayed by 10 minutes or more.

MetroAccess service will continue to operate during the same hours as rail and bus services, Metro said.

“Metro continues to emphasize that customers must not use MetroAccess to travel to health-care appointments if they are showing signs of illness for the safety of our employees and other passengers,” Metro said. “If you are ill, call your health-care provider and make transportation arrangements that do not involve public transportation. In addition, the MetroAccess Eligibility Center is closed until further notice.”

Metro is banning visitors and nonessential personnel from its Rail Operations Control Center while it spreads out workers in the center between two locations, “allowing downtime for disinfecting keyboards, headsets, microphones, screens and other critical equipment in the control center.”

Additionally, Metro has suspended all public meetings at Metro headquarters and is not permitting visitors at any of its administrative offices.