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The number of known coronavirus cases in the District, Maryland and Virginia was 70,452 on Thursday, with 35,903 cases in Maryland, 27,813 in Virginia and 6,736 in the District. The number of virus-related deaths reached 1,866 in Maryland, 955 in Virginia and 358 in the District, for a total of 3,179 fatalities.

Here are some of the most significant recent developments as the region responds to the pandemic of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease covid-19:

• As some areas of the region prepare to reopen, other localities plan to extend stay-at-home orders. In Prince George’s County, executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) signed an executive order continuing a stay-at-home order in the Washington suburb through June 1.

• Maryland expects to lose at least $925 million in state tax revenue by the end of June, forecasters said Thursday, less than half the worst-case scenario predicted a month ago. Virginia officials reported state tax revenue plummeted 26 percent last month compared to April 2019 in the first monthly revenue report to reflect the economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.

Virginia officials said Thursday they will no longer include the results of unreliable antibody tests in their overall data about covid-19 in the state, a practice that had been criticized as undermining the state’s depiction of its efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Virginia Department of Health said the change does not significantly alter the statistical trends that led Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to move toward easing restrictions for most of the state, beginning Friday.

• More than 103,000 unemployment claims were filed last week in the District, Maryland and Virginia, according to figures released Thursday by the Labor Department. In the eight weeks since social distancing measures shut down all but essential businesses in the region, more than 885,000 people have sought jobless benefits in the three jurisdictions.

11:08 p.m.
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Ocean City, Md., mayor lifts lodging restrictions

The mayor of Ocean City, Md., the state’s largest beach community, lifted lodging restrictions put in place to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement Thursday by Mayor Rick Meehan during a special session of the City Council came as Maryland enters the first phase of reopening.

“Following Gov. Hogan’s lifting of the Stay-At-Home order, the Town of Ocean City will be lifting lodging restrictions on short-term rentals effective Thursday, May 14 at 5 p.m.,” Meehan said in a statement. “The Town is currently working with the Hotel Motel Restaurant Association and Chamber of Commerce to ensure we follow stage one of the Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery and Back to Business Pledge. We encourage residents and visitors to follow health and safety guidelines, including physical distancing and gathering limits."

Ocean City hosts millions of visitors annually in hotel rooms and rental units, and its economy is tied to summer tourism.

“Personal responsibility and individual comfort levels are incredibly important to exercise during each phase of recovery,” Meehan said. “Each and every one of us has an obligation to exercise personal responsibility to protect our families, our friends, our co-workers, and neighbors, so as a community we keep Ocean City moving forward.”

10:34 p.m.
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Northam extends coronavirus shutdown in the city of Richmond and in rural Accomack County

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has delayed the phase one reopening of businesses in the city of Richmond and in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore after those localities requested it on Thursday. Like localities in Northern Virginia, those two areas will maintain tighter restrictions against the novel coronavirus for at least two extra weeks, until May 28. The rest of the state will gradually ease out of the shutdown beginning Friday.

Rural Accomack has seen a high incidence of infection in its crowded poultry processing facilities. The board of supervisors there voted Wednesday night to request an extension and notified Northam (D) on Thursday. Richmond has struggled with outbreaks in low-income neighborhoods and public housing complexes, and Mayor Levar Stoney wrote to Northam on Thursday to request the delay.

“Richmond’s percent positivity has increased over the past two weeks, rather than decreased,” Stoney wrote. “Combined with the total case count growth in the city of Richmond, this data suggests that the prudent course of action would be to delay the implementation of Phase One reopening.”

“As I have said previously, Virginia’s Phase One guidelines represent a floor, not a ceiling,” Northam said in a statement. “I have encouraged local leaders to request exemptions when appropriate, and I am pleased to grant the delays for both Accomack County and the City of Richmond.”

10:14 p.m.
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Virginia Beach restaurants prepare to reopen

Virginia Beach restaurant owner Mike Standing did a curious thing this week as he got ready to partially reopen his three businesses near the oceanfront: He took a day off.

“First time in 90 days,” he said. “I went fishing. Just had to clear my head.”

Standing has been wheeling and dealing ever since the shutdown to keep some kind of life flickering at his restaurants and keep a few of his 300 staffers employed. At the Shack, he created a temporary grocery store stocked with local seafood and other goods.

When Gov. Ralph Northam (D) allowed restaurants to serve liquor to go, Standing brought back a few more workers to meet public demand. “We serve a famous drink that’s pretty popular,” he said. It’s “Orange Crush” — fresh o.j., orange vodka, triple sec, “and one secret ingredient that we can’t disclose.”

Because the new phase one plan only allows restaurants to reopen outdoor seating areas and at half-capacity, Standing and other restaurateurs have been working with Virginia Beach City Council to get special ordinances approved to allow use of all outdoor spaces around an eatery, including sidewalks.

That measure was expected to pass Thursday night, and Standing was crossing his fingers that the state ABC board would come through with permits. With that possibility, he’s been reconfiguring the spaces around his three restaurants — the Shack, Chix on the Beach and Waterman’s Surfside Grille.

“Next thing is finding the chairs to put in there,” he said. He has about 180 employees back, and all have been undergoing training for the new reality — with “covid transition leaders” teaching managers new procedures.

“The cost of doing business has gone up significantly, the way we have to clean tables, sanitize between guests — it’s a whole 'nother level,” Standing said. But he’s excited to get things up and running, even partially — and to get a little cash flowing again.

“We don’t have the answers to everything, it’s very complicated,” he said. “But I think that between our staff, our banks and our government, I think everybody knows we’re all doing our best. We’re all in it together.”

9:58 p.m.
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Maryland’s top Democrats raise concerns about Hogan’s decision to reopen

The Maryland General Assembly’s presiding officers are questioning Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to reopen the state this week and are calling on him to provide more information about whether the state is meeting goals on testing and contact tracing, two critical benchmarks for a safe reopening.

“We have concerns about your plan to reopen Maryland without first understanding and having access to the data guiding those decision points,” Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) wrote in a letter to Hogan.

On Wednesday, Hogan said that with a downward trend in the number of covid-19 ICU patients and a decline in new deaths, the state was ready to “cautiously and safely” begin Stage One of the recovery plan. The governor amended his stay-at-home order to allow some retail stores, churches and manufacturing to reopen with social distancing rules in place.

Ferguson and Jones listed 15 questions about testing and contact tracing that they asked the governor’s office to answer by May 20. A spokesman for Hogan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Among the questions: How long it takes to process tests, what type of labs are conducting the tests, how many contact tracers have been hired, and what is the average time frame between starting and completing a contact-trace case?

The presiding officers applauded the governor for his early response to the coronavirus outbreak, but the letter hints that they think the state may be moving too quickly on reopening.

“Without a robust testing, tracing, and isolation system in place, there is little doubt that any easing of restrictions will lead to additional COVID-19 cases,” the letter reads. “The ensuing spike will only serve to prolong the human and economic devastation being felt by Maryland families, small businesses, and our state and local governments.”

9:40 p.m.
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In much of Virginia, restaurants cautiously prepare to reopen

With a mix of relief and caution, restaurant owners across much of Virginia prepared to reopen their establishments Friday following the decision by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to permit outdoor dining as part of the commonwealth’s phased reopening. But it won’t be business as usual.

To welcome back customers for their first sit-down meal in months, the PaveMint Smokin’ Taphouse and Grill in Front Royal will turn its outdoor space into a camp-style restaurant nicknamed “Camp PaveMint 2020.”

Rachel Failmezger, who owns the restaurant with her husband, has spent recent days purchasing and constructing five tents, 100 square feet each, that will act as private dining spaces for up to eight customers at a time. Each enclosed tent has a theme — such as Co-Chilla, Glamp Camp and Beachin’ — and accompanying servers will be known as “camp counselors.”

“We want to give our community a safe space with some fun and joy that reminds us of when things were a little less complicated,” Failmezger said as she added finishing touches to the sign for her Co-Chilla-themed tent. “This is a way to provide social distancing that doesn’t feel quite so isolated.”

Heightened safety protocols, however, will be a central part of dining for restaurant-goers. Servers will wear masks and drop off food — such as brisket and pouches of cocktails — outside the tents. Customers, though not required to wear masks, will be asked to access the menu via their phones. Failmezger and her employees will douse tents with spray cans of sanitizer between uses.

The tents, which are available to reserve for 2½-hour stretches, are already sold out for Friday and Saturday night.

At Portico Restaurant & Bar in Henrico County, owners Paolo and Rhonda Randazzo were looking forward to reopening their large dining patio, set behind a 1940s general store on a rural lane. There will be no indoor dining, but the restaurant will be able to serve about 48 people at a time outdoors, with tables positioned six feet apart.

Guests will have to wear face masks when they walk through the restaurant building to reach the patio or if they go inside to use the restroom. A staffer, stationed at the restrooms, will clean the facilities between each use. To limit traffic at the door, patrons will exit out the back, along a garden path.

“We’re locking the door so no one can come into the restaurant until the table is ready,” Rhonda Randazzo said.

Portico’s nine-person staff, outfitted in face masks, will keep as much distance as possible as they serve customers. Menus will be disposable and will list the daily specials to spare waiters long-winded descriptions of, say, the rosemary-crusted hanger steak, served with wild-mushroom-balsamic demi-glace, roasted potatoes and sauteed vegetables — one of the offerings that Paolo, the chef, plans for Friday.

Extra precautions will be taken to keep everything clean, with items not bound for the dishwasher taken to a sanitation station. That includes the little trays used to present checks, the pens for signing credit card receipts, even the sugar-packet holders. The sugar packets themselves will get dumped in a box and kept there for 48 hours, until any chance of contamination has passed, before they are placed on another table.

“It’s not hard,” Rhonda Randazzo said. “It’s just a lot of thought.”

8:32 p.m.
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Baltimore City to maintain shutdown, says Hogan ‘failed’ to deliver tests

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) said Thursday his city will opt out of the governor’s partial reopening plan and remain in lockdown as it tries to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Baltimore City is simply not in a position to open safely at this time,” Young said during an afternoon news conference where he faulted Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for failing to help local jurisdictions provide adequate testing. Young said public health guidelines say Baltimore should be testing about 2,800 residents per day, but it is currently testing 571 on average. All testing has been done by the city and local hospitals.

“I’d very much like to reopen, but until the state steps up to the plate and provides us with testing help, it would be irresponsible for us to relax our restrictions,” Young said. Baltimore has the fourth-highest number of deaths and cases among the state’s jurisdictions.

“We commend Mayor Young for making the decisions that he feels are best for city residents,” Hogan spokesman Michael Ricci said in a statement. “We have worked closely with the city throughout this crisis, from activating the National Guard at the Mayor’s request to providing testing resources to help stand up the city’s first drive-thru site at Pimlico.”

7:50 p.m.
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Virginia state tax revenue drops sharply in April

Virginia’s state tax revenue plummeted 26 percent in April compared to April 2019 in the first monthly revenue report to reflect the economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis, and we must combat this virus before we can begin to repair our economy,” Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said in a written statement. “My top priorities continue to be protecting the health and safety of all Virginians.”

Northam primarily attributed the plunge to the extension of individual and corporate income tax deadlines from May 1 until June 1. A portion of the estimated and final payments from individuals is typically received in April.

Finance Secretary Aubrey Layne said the April receipts are consistent with the administration’s estimate that the virus will cost the state $1 billion in the fiscal year that ends June 30. The state expects the pandemic to cost it an additional $2 billion in lost revenue and direct expenses over the two-year budget that begins July 1.

5:06 p.m.
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Virginia says it will stop counting unreliable covid-19 tests, denies effort to boost overall standing

RICHMOND — Virginia officials said Thursday that they will no longer include the results of unreliable antibody tests in their overall data about covid-19 in the state, a practice that had been criticized as undermining the state’s depiction of its efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Virginia Department of Health said the change does not significantly alter the statistical trends that led Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to move toward easing restrictions for most of the state, beginning Friday.

Antibody tests had amounted to less than 9 percent of the state’s overall screening for the coronavirus. Removing them from the total slightly increases the percentage of positive tests among the overall number of tests given, from 14 to 15 percent.

The Health Department said that uptick does not alter the overall trend of a decline in the percentage of positive tests, which is one of the fundamental metrics that Northam said he is using to roll back some restrictions on businesses. Phase 1 reopening is expected to begin Friday for most of the state, although hard-hit Northern Virginia will remain under full restrictions for at least two more weeks.

Because they are less accurate than the genetic tests conducted by swabbing a patient’s nose, the antibody — or serologic — tests were not used to confirm positive cases reported by the state. But by inflating the overall number of tests given, they held down the apparent percentage of positive infections.

Read more here.

4:57 p.m.
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Montgomery County’s top official says Hogan’s decision to ease restrictions is premature

Officials in Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction say Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to lift his “stay-at-home” order is premature.

“Personally, I think he went farther than he should have right now,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D), the top official in the hard-hit county where more than 400 people have died of covid-19.

He noted that Maryland reported 1,091 new infections today, up from 751 the day before.

“That is not the kind of number that I think warrants opening up the state,” he said.

Like several of Maryland’s largest jurisdictions, Montgomery County is not relaxing its restrictions. Residents are still asked to stay home, and to wear masks when visiting grocery stores or pharmacies. People can continue to walk in parks but are not allowed to use playgrounds or to congregate.

“We don’t see this as a time to relax restrictions, and in fact we see it as a time to be more aggressive,” said Montgomery County health officer Travis Gayles.

Hogan said Wednesday that the decision to lift his executive order came after the number of hospitalized covid-19 patients plateaued for 14 days. Gayles said the county is not looking for “a plateau at a high [number],” but a sustained 14-day decrease in new cases and new hospitalizations.

About 20 percent of Montgomery’s confirmed covid-19 patients are hospitalized, Gayles said, and the county wants to see that number drop before letting businesses and government agencies reopen.

On Wednesday, he noted, four of the six hospitals in the county of more than 1 million were at capacity for ICU beds.

Gayles also said the county is monitoring the rate at which patients are testing positive for covid-19. That number has hovered at about 24 percent in recent weeks, Gayles said, and officials want to see it under 15 percent.

“We will change the rules as soon as the science says we can change the rules,” Elrich said, adding that unlike the District or Prince George’s County, Montgomery has not set a date to reopen.

4:31 p.m.
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‘The magnitude is staggering’: Md. releases new forecast of economic damage from pandemic

Maryland expects to lose at least $925 million in state tax revenue by the end of June, forecasters said Thursday, less than half the worst-case scenario predicted a month ago.

The sum nevertheless will force across-the-board cuts over the next several months and is expected to balloon to $1.2 billion if Congress does not pass another rescue package. State leaders said they hope to spare state workers from layoffs.

The new forecast estimates Maryland will have 100,000 fewer jobs three years from now than it did before the pandemic began.

As of Thursday, 581,950 people in the state had filed for unemployment in the last eight weeks.

“I’m repeatedly shocked at the possible depth of this recession,” Andrew Schaufele, director of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, said during a briefing Thursday. “The magnitude is staggering.”

The slightly rosier take on a still-bleak economic forecast is driven by Maryland employers continuing to pay more workers than originally assumed. Schaufele said he could only speculate why more workers were getting paid, suggesting that perhaps it was because companies had healthy balance sheets, were reluctant to lose highly trained workers or government programs helped companies make ends meet.

Schaufele cautioned, though, that the economic hardship of the next year appears two to three times worse than what unfolded during the Great Recession. Even if a vaccine is widely available by the end of next year, today’s economic losses are expected to linger for several more years.

Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D), two of the three members on the powerful Board of Public Works that can cut state spending, said they expect to start weighing spending reductions suggested by the governor.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is the third member of the board. He has been using his perch as chairman of the National Governors Association to encourage Congress to send $500 billion to rescue state governments, which have exploding expenses to respond to the virus and revenue taking a nose-dive.

Hogan has said Maryland has spent as much as $2 billion so far on its response.

Budget Secretary David R. Brinkley said Thursday the governor was waiting for the latest estimates before recommending any trims to state spending. But he said there’s no program or policy that won’t be on the table.

“First, we have to stop the hemorrhaging,” he said. “There are tough decisions to be made, but we have to do exactly what is necessary.”

Kopp and Franchot each said they intended to cut state spending without laying off the state’s workers.

“We don’t want to add to unemployment,” Kopp said.

4:24 p.m.
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Prince George’s stay-at-home order extended through June 1

Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) said Thursday that she has signed an executive order extending the stay-at-home order in the Washington suburb through June 1.

Alsobrooks said Prince George’s — which this past weekend recorded its highest number of patients hospitalized with covid-19 — has not had the declines in hospitalizations, deaths and new cases necessary to safely reopen. She also said the county has not received the tests or personal protective equipment from the state that it needs.

“We can’t reopen because we don’t have the resources to do so safely,” she said during a news conference.

Alsobrooks, who has been requesting coronavirus testing kits from the state for weeks, said that before residents can return to work or gather with family members outside their households, tests need to be available for asymptomatic individuals. She said that about 5,000 tests per week are conducted in the county, most of which are focused on those with symptoms.

The coronavirus positivity rate in Prince George’s, she said, is 33 percent — compared with the statewide average of 20 percent.

Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), whose congressional district includes Prince George’s, said Maryland ranks 27th in the country in terms of tests conducted per capita.

“The only way to reopen our state and get our economy moving is based on science. That is, as you’ve heard, testing, testing, testing,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, Maryland has fallen behind.”

He called on Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to quickly deploy the tests it has to Prince George’s, noting that Maryland on Wednesday received a shipment of swabs and extraction kits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Health officer Ernest L. Carter said a record 262 patients were hospitalized with covid-19 in Prince George’s this past weekend. But that number has steadily declined this week and is now at 204, he said, and officials are seeing the rate of increase of new cases slow. On average, nine Prince Georgians die each day of covid-19.

Carter and Alsobrooks said they want to see a two-week reduction in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations before the county can be reopened. They also want to increase the number of tests being conducted from about 5,000 to 9,000 per week, increase the number of contact tracers available and acquire more personal protective equipment.

4:20 p.m.
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Ellicott City business owners say they are relieved county will remain closed

No matter how desperately Kelli Myers needed the money, she felt relieved when she learned Wednesday night that Howard County Executive Calvin Ball had decided to keep his county closed, opting out of Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to relax certain restrictions statewide.

“I took a breath,” said Myers, who owns A Journey From Junk, a boutique in Ellicott City, Maryland. “It seemed like a bad idea to reopen so soon.”

When the pandemic forced her shop closed in March, Myers, like many of her neighbors, was still steeped in debt from two floods that had ravished the city over the past four years.

The opportunity to reopen would have given her some much-needed relief after months of barely scraping by. But Myers, regardless of the $65,000 she lost in merchandise two years ago, would rather see her county play it safe.

“I need more time to turn it around and make sure everyone feels safe in my shop, which is so small,” she said.

Myers woke up early Thursday to clean her showroom and reposition freshly-painted furniture so she will be prepared for the day she is allowed to welcome customers back inside. Like Myers, many business owners on the historic Main Street felt a weight off their shoulders when they heard that the county would remain shuttered while other parts of the state move toward a new phase of the pandemic.

“I had a slight heart attack when the governor announced yesterday that everything was open,” said Alicia Jones, executive director of Ellicott City Partnership. “I do not want to knock out the immune systems of our business owners in one fell swoop.”

But for some community leaders, like Gloss Hair Studio owner Melissa Hutchison, the news was more of a letdown.

Ever since Hogan announced that small businesses could reopen at 50 percent capacity, Hutchison’s phone had been “blowing up” with neighbors desperate for a haircut.

“It has been very overwhelming since the announcement came, but a good overwhelming, the best one,” Hutchison said Wednesday night, as she prepared to start haircuts Monday. She had an emergency Zoom meeting with her team Thursday morning to adjust to the news.

“Everyone had mixed emotions about coming back out so I wouldn’t say we are necessarily disappointed,” she said. “But we are ready to safely get back to work.”

The news hit Dave Carney, who owns liquor store Wine Bin, particularly hard. He was one of the customers who had texted Hutchison last night, clamoring for a haircut.

“I want everyone to be safe but I also want to make sure my friends stay in business,” he said. “And I really need a hair cut.”

His co-worker has started to name cocktails after Carney’s hair, like “DaveNeedsAHaircut,” which is a strawberry-flavored drink that bears a resemblance to the color of his hair.

2:41 p.m.
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D.C., Maryland, Virginia report 93 new coronavirus deaths

The number of new coronavirus infections and deaths in the Washington region continued to rise Thursday, a day before parts of Virginia and Maryland plan to begin a gradual reopening. The District and two states combined to report 93 deaths and 2,310 new infections Thursday.

The District had 152 new known cases Thursday, bringing the city’s total to 6,736. D.C. officials reported eight additional deaths, bringing the number of fatalities to 358.

Maryland reported 1,091 new cases, for a total of 35,903. The state reported 57 new deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 1,866.

Virginia reported 1,067 new cases, bringing its total to 27,813. The state’s 28 new fatalities raised its death toll to 955.

2:25 p.m.
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Metro to require face coverings beginning Monday

Metro will start requiring face masks or coverings beginning Monday for all riders, Metro’s Chief Safety Officer Theresa Impastato told board members Thursday.

The requirement fits in with mask rules in Maryland and the District, and Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said vehicle operators have asked for the measure. Customers on recent Metro surveys also have indicated they would feel more comfortable riding transit if passengers were required to wear masks, he said.

Until now, Metro had been recommending that customers wear facial coverings.

Wiedefeld said he didn't expect stringent enforcement of the new requirement, saying Metro wants to avoid clashes between passengers who aren't wearing masks and transit police. Police elsewhere have been recorded on viral social media videos physically confronting riders who aren't wearing masks in cities such as Philadelphia, drawing widespread condemnation.

Wiedefeld said Metro is looking to see if the agency has enough stock of face masks for transit officers to carry some and provide to passengers if issues arise.

He said he is hoping customers take personal responsibility for themselves and consider the health of others.

“We will encourage it,” he said. “But we’re not looking to write tickets or anything of that sort.”