Please Note

The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.

The number of known coronavirus cases in the District, Maryland and Virginia was 87,267 on Friday, with 44,424 cases in Maryland, 34,950 in Virginia and 7,893 in the District. The number of virus-related deaths reached 2,207 in Maryland, 1,136 in Virginia and 418 in the District, for a total of 3,761 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:

• Deborah Birx, lead coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said Friday that Maryland, Virginia and the District lead the country in the percentage of positive test results for the virus and — despite their quarantine measures — have not seen the decline in infections witnessed in other states.

• For the first time in its 50-year history, Wolf Trap is canceling its summer concerts and children’s theater program because of the coronavirus.

• The District, Maryland and Virginia reported an additional 91 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday. Virginia reported 37 deaths, the highest number in 10 days.

• Some parts of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia are reopening in phases starting Saturday morning, officials said. But other areas in the park, including Old Rag Mountain and Whiteoak, and picnic areas remain closed.

• Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) laid out plans for a drastically different summer. The city’s Summer Youth Employment Program will be an almost entirely virtual program this year, with teenagers and young adults working remote jobs — like tech support or teaching children to read — and practicing job skills through more than 200 hours of remote training offered through the D.C. Department of Employment Services.

The live blog is closed

11:36 p.m.
Link copied
link

Please follow The Post’s continuing coverage here.

Georgetown Coach Patrick Ewing tests positive for coronavirus

11:24 p.m.
Link copied
link

Georgetown men’s basketball Coach Patrick Ewing has tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated at an area hospital, he announced Friday night on Twitter in a statement through the school.

"I want to share that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Ewing said in the statement. "This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly. I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Now more than ever, I want to thank the healthcare workers and everyone on the front lines. I’ll be fine and we will all get through this.”

Ewing, 57, wanted to share the diagnosis to emphasize the wide-reaching nature of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the statement. No other members of the basketball team tested positive.

Read more here.

Veronica Norman, a St. Elizabeths nurse who refused to retire, dies of covid-19

11:19 p.m.
Link copied
link

In her 70s, when most people are well into retirement, Veronica Norman was still working as a nurse at St. Elizabeths Hospital, the District’s psychiatric facility. Her family had encouraged her to retire, but Norman insisted on continuing the nursing work she had been doing for 40 years.

“She loved it,” said her niece, Renata Hedrington-Jones. “She loved helping people and never got tired of it. She celebrated her birthday, but if they needed her, she would go to work.”

Norman, 75, who lived in Prince George’s County, died April 18. Her death was announced by D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8), who had been close to Norman since his childhood and considers her a grandmother. Her family said the cause of death was covid-19.

Maryland courts release plan for slow reopening, with jury trials scheduled to resume in October

11:11 p.m.
Link copied
link

The Maryland court system released a plan Friday to gradually reopen courthouses to the public and move toward full operations over the next five months.

Jury trials are not expected to resume until early October.

“The details in the reopening plan were carefully and deliberately crafted by workgroups composed of Judiciary leadership, with the health and wellbeing of court visitors and employees as the driving force, in our work to increase access to the courts,” Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera said in a statement. “We acknowledge the courts will not be able to immediately return to full operations.”

The phased approach largely begins June 5 at 5 p.m. and will move forward in different phases, Barbera said. Grand juries can be empaneled as needed at the discretion of administrative judges.

Regardless of the phase, officials said, the plan encourages courts to continue using technology for remote proceedings, either through video or telephone.

“Remote proceedings have been useful and effective in facilitating the courts’ ability to carry out core functions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Judge Laura Ripken, administrative judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit and chair of the Conference of Circuit Judges, said in a statement. “The courts will continue to use technology for remote proceedings so that we can expand the types of matters that can be heard before the court.”

As outlined in the administrative order, Phase 3, which is expected to begin July 20, will “mark the milestone” in which the clerks’ offices in both the district and circuit courts will be fully open to the public, officials said.

Officials added that courts will require any individual, including employees, to answer a set of screening questions before entering a courthouse, be subject to temperature checks, wear a facial covering or mask and practice social distancing.

Food stamp recipients in Virginia will soon be able to order groceries online and have them delivered

Link copied
link

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday that the federal government has picked the state to take part in a pilot program that lets recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) order groceries online and have them delivered, helping prevent exposure to the novel coronavirus.

“For families with small children or with members who have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk, this will help keep them even safer,” Northam (D) said, thanking the state’s U.S. senators — Tim Kaine (D) and Mark R. Warner (D) — for working to get Virginia included in the program.

More than 740,000 Virginians receive benefits under SNAP, the federal aid program commonly known as food stamps, Northam said. Online ordering will launch Friday, May 29, and initially be available through Amazon and Walmart. Other retailers who want to participate can apply through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the governor said.

SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay tips or delivery fees, Northam’s office said.

Maryland lawmakers seek legal immunity for businesses whose customers contract coronavirus

9:40 p.m.
Link copied
link

A bipartisan group of Maryland senators is asking Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to issue an executive order protecting small business owners from lawsuits filed by customers or employees who contract the coronavirus.

In a letter to Hogan, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and Maryland Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D), the group asks for legal immunity for small businesses that follow safety protocols.

Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s), a business owner and member of the state senate’s Small Business Job Caucus, said liability for workers’ and customers’ potential coronavirus infections was a top concern at caucus meetings.

“I think there are a lot of people very nervous about reopening, worried about defending themselves if they do get sued,” Peters said.

The letter — signed by 10 state senators, nearly half of them small business owners — also asks for other relief such as deferring or waiving penalties, interest and late fees on certain tax payments and using a portion of the state’s rainy day fund to assist the business owners.

“The pandemic has had an unparalleled impact on our economy,” Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Howard) wrote. “Small businesses are the heart of Maryland’s economy. … Many had to close their doors or significantly reduce operations in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, forgoing the revenue necessary to keep themselves afloat.”

A spokesman for Hogan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, Maryland Association for Justice President Ellen Flynn said, “Immunity from legal liability removes accountability and disincentivizes businesses from following the governor’s orders making it more likely customers will fear infection and not patronize businesses, which will hamper our economic recovery.”

Hogan agrees with Trump that churches should reopen but stands by limited capacity for gatherings

9:19 p.m.
Link copied
link

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who recently allowed churches to reopen at half-capacity, agrees with President Trump that houses of worship should be allowed to hold in-person religious services, the governor’s spokesman said Friday.

Hogan (R) announced last week that religious organizations and certain businesses could begin to reopen. Churches are allowed to have indoor services that cannot exceed 50 percent capacity.

“Faith and worship are such an essential part of the lives of so many people,” Hogan said at a news conference last week. “Religious leaders are strongly urged to do everything possible to keep their congregants safe and particularly to protect the elderly and the vulnerable within their congregations.”

Hogan’s decision to reopen churches, albeit with restrictions, came earlier than originally planned. It was not supported by Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a member of the governor’s coronavirus task force.

A majority of jurisdictions in Maryland have opted out of implementing Hogan’s plan for reopening churches and certain businesses, over concerns about medical supplies and testing. After local officials said they were not ready to reopen, the governor gave them the option to create their own plans instead of following his.

About 60 percent of Maryland residents live in areas that are not fully following Hogan’s reopening blueprint. Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Howard counties are limiting religious gatherings to 10 or fewer people.

Mike Ricci, Hogan’s spokesman, said Friday that the governor has no plans to force county executives to follow his order allowing churches to reopen.

“We will continue to follow a community-based approach,” Ricci said.

Arlington County parks to reopen Saturday with restrictions

8:01 p.m.
Link copied
link

Parks in Arlington County will reopen Saturday on a limited basis, with playgrounds, picnic shelters, athletic courts and fields, dog parks and public restrooms off limits, county officials said Friday.

The county said people can use the open spaces inside its 148 parks to exercise or sit with members of their household, as long as they keep their distance from others. County officials recommend, but do not require, wearing a mask.

“We need the community’s help in practicing safety guidelines so we can keep our parks open, and to allow staff the necessary time to prepare to open even more facilities and programs, when it’s safe to do so,” Jane Rudolph, director of Arlington’s department of parks and recreation, said in a statement. “As long as the community stays safe, we can stay open.”

As of Friday, Arlington County had 1,795 known coronavirus infections and 91 deaths.

The phased reopening of county parks will expand in early June, when dog parks, athletic fields and outdoor courts will also reopen with social distancing restrictions, officials said.

Arlington County and its neighboring Northern Virginia jurisdictions have been hit harder than other parts of Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has allowed the region to hold off on a gradual reopening until at least Thursday if trends on infection rates, hospitalizations and other metrics start to decrease.

White House coronavirus task force leader: D.C. region has highest rate of positive test results in U.S.

Link copied
link
White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx on May 22 said the Washington, D.C., area have the highest covid-19 positivity compared to other areas (The Washington Post)

Deborah Birx, lead coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said Friday that Maryland, Virginia and the District lead the country in the percentage of positive test results for the virus and despite their quarantine measures have not seen the decline in infections seen in other states.

Birx said she has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with officials in the District — as well as in Chicago and Los Angeles, which are similarly not seeing declines — “to really understand where these new cases are coming from and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future.”

She said 42 states now have a positive test rate under 10 percent on a rolling, seven-day average but that Maryland, Virginia and the District have not seen their rates drop. The D.C. region, which includes Northern Virginia and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, has the highest rate of positive coronavirus tests among the country’s metro areas, she said.

“This is so you can all make your decisions about going outside and social distancing,” she told reporters in the White House briefing room. “You can see the top three states are Maryland, the District and Virginia.”

A spokeswoman for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) did not dispute Birx’s assessment, saying the numbers highlight how Northern Virginia has been hit harder by the virus than the rest of the state.

As of May 18, Virginia reported that 14.7 percent of all tests statewide were coming back positive on a seven-day moving average. For Northern Virginia that figure was 24.6 percent, while it was just 10 percent for the rest of the state, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

“As Governor Northam has made clear, Northern Virginia and the greater Washington area face unique challenges—that’s why Northern Virginia localities remain under a Stay at Home order,” Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said in a text message.

Northam authorized most of Virginia to begin reopening last Friday, but excluded three areas that had asked to remain under tighter restrictions because of persistently high numbers of infections and deaths: Northern Virginia, the city of Richmond and Accomack County on the Eastern Shore, where poultry processing factories have been a hot spot for the coronavirus. The stricter shutdown remains in effect until at least May 28 in those places.

A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Birx’s comments don’t come as a surprise, given that Hogan has repeatedly said the D.C. metro region had the potential to become the nation’s next hot spot.

“The governor said early on that the capital region would be a hots pot for covid-19, and the D.C. metro counties have been a substantial focus of our public health response, receiving the most testing and most new hospital surge capacity,” Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said.

Based on the numbers of hospitalizations and available ICU beds, Hogan announced a partial reopening of the state on May 15, permitting houses of worship and certain businesses, including barbershops, art galleries and car washes to reopen their doors. The governor left it up to local officials to decide whether they were ready to reopen, allowing them to opt out of implementing his plan.

The state’s largest and hardest-hit jurisdictions — Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, both bordering the District — opted out. About 60 percent of Maryland residents live in areas that have not fully implemented Hogan’s reopening plans, but local leaders have indicated they are moving closer toward lifting more restrictions.

Officials in the administration of D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Northam says residents of Northern Virginia, two other regions should stay home over Memorial Day weekend

Link copied
link

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said residents in Northern Virginia, Richmond and Accomack County on the Eastern Shore should not travel outside their regions during the Memorial Day weekend.

“Those three areas are still under the stay-at-home order. Unless it’s essential they need to be out, we don’t expect people to be traveling in those particular areas,” Northam (D) said at a news briefing Friday.

Those areas have been particularly hard-hit by the novel coronavirus and requested to be left out of the first phase of reopening of businesses that Northam enacted last Friday for the rest of the state.

The governor said he has been in regular contact with local leaders in the regions that are still facing strict restrictions and is regularly assessing when they should begin to loosen them. The efforts in those parts of the state are set to continue at least through May 28.

Northam said he would have more information next week. “They’re on a different schedule right now. I don’t anticipate changing that schedule,” he said.

He added that Northern Virginia, Richmond and Accomack County could remain on a delayed timeline even as the rest of the state moves into the next phase of reopening.

“They may be behind the rest of the state,” Northam said.

Northam also addressed President Trump’s declaration that churches should be considered essential and fully reopened, standing by Virginia’s policy of allowing only 50 percent capacity.

“In a time like this when so many people are struggling and making sacrifices, faith is more important than ever,” Northam said, “and we want to make sure that individuals are allowed to practice their religion and they’re allowed to do it safely.”

He added that many faith leaders have told him they are continuing to use precautions such as outside drive-up services.

Northam delays decision on mask requirements, until after holiday weekend

6:46 p.m.
Link copied
link

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday that he would not announce a statewide policy on mask use until next week — leaving the public without firm directives over the Memorial Day weekend, when many are expected to take advantage of fine weather to congregate in public places after months of quarantine.

Northam (D), a physician, has encouraged but not required Virginians to wear face coverings in public. But the question of whether he should require them to do so has become urgent as parts of the state reopen and more people leave their homes. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) and two union leaders on Friday urged Northam to mandate mask-wearing in public and at businesses.

The governor said at a news conference that his staff would be “working through the policy over the next couple days” to ensure people have access to masks and consider how best to enforce a policy. He said he would make an announcement Tuesday.

Stoney noted in a letter to the governor that more customers at a grocery store in Richmond’s East End shopped without masks in the past week as Northam eased some quarantine restrictions for much of the state. Richmond, like hard-hit Northern Virginia and Accomack County on the Eastern Shore, has delayed reopening.

“As the nation’s only doctor governor, I know that you understand that this is not the time for us to let down our guard,” Stoney wrote.

Two union leaders made a similar appeal Friday morning during a Facebook Live event arranged by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. They asked the governor to require Virginians to wear masks inside businesses.

“We don’t need recommendations. We didn’t elect anyone to give us recommendations,” said Dyana Forester, director of political affairs for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400. “We elected you to put legislation, to put measures in place to protect our workers, to protect us.”

Forester and Doris Crouse-Mays, president of the Virginia AFL-CIO, asked for the mask mandate as part of a larger set of worker protections. They urged those following the Facebook Live event to sign a petition demanding that Northam require employers to provide paid sick and quarantine leave, on-the-job personal protective equipment, rapid and free coronavirus testing and whistleblower protections, among other things.

“Our members, the workers, are really putting their lives on the front line right now,” Forester said. “Some of us have the luxury right now to work from home and to keep work going. But remember the ones that don’t.”

Northam dropped hints Friday of what his announcement next week might entail.

“Make plans for you and other family members to have facial protection,” he said.

Cuban American author H.G. Carrillo, who explored themes of cultural alienation, dies after developing covid-19

5:28 p.m.
Link copied
link

Four years ago, Hermán G. Carrillo and his husband, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, bought a Victorian-style abode just outside the District — it had been a railroad ticket house in the 1920s — and Carrillo, a writer, thought a garden would be nice, a big one. VanEngelsdorp, a professor of entomology, said wonderful, yes, but it shouldn’t be ordinary. He dreaded some backyard palette out of a glossy magazine, conventionally pretty.

“I told him it needed to be biodiverse and as attractive to insects and pollinators as possible,” vanEngelsdorp recalled by phone the other day.

He was strolling on the garden’s figure-eight path in the morning sun, alone since Carrillo, 59, died last month of complications from covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. “I told him I wanted flowers every day of the year,” vanEngelsdorp said, but mainly what he insisted on were native plants: spiderwort, aster, bee balm.

Robins sang from pockets of the yard, in Berwyn Heights, Md., as he walked in the splendid disorder, past the riotous flushes of colors Carrillo left him.

“I studied gardening,” vanEngelsdorp, 50, said. “He broke all the rules,” delightfully eschewing any semblance of botanical choreography. Carrillo (“Hache” to his friends, and H.G. Carrillo to readers of his kaleidoscopic fiction, in which he plumbed the meaning of Cuban American identity) created an oasis of asymmetry that vanEngelsdorp lately realized is a metaphor for his lost partner’s peripatetic life.

D.C. mayor announces summer school plans and August start date for some grades

4:32 p.m.
Link copied
link

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) laid out plans Friday for a drastically different summer.

The city’s Summer Youth Employment Program will be an almost entirely virtual program this year, with teenagers and young adults working remote jobs — like tech support or teaching children to read — and practicing job skills through more than 200 hours of remote training offered through the D.C. Department of Employment Services.

Summer camp will be remote, and free, for as many as 5,000 children.

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation will give out supplies for kids to participate in activities like cooking, art projects and science experiments.

If the city reaches “Phase 2” this summer — meaning only localized transmission of the virus is taking place — then the department could offer in-person camps for small groups of students at 27 locations.

Parks Director Delano Hunter said the modified camps would have “a heavy outdoor emphasis on socially distant activities and games.”

High school students will graduate in virtual ceremonies in June. Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee said each high school will have its own graduation, complete with caps and gowns.

“We remain committed to having joyful, student-centered graduation ceremonies,” Ferebee said.

Bowser told students: “We want to celebrate with you. We want to see you all over social media about how you’re celebrating with your families.”

Summer school will also be virtual, running from June 22 to July 24.

In August, if the city has reached Phase 2, the school system will offer a “bridge program,” an optional two weeks of school for the district’s 11,500 rising third-, sixth- and ninth-graders. By having only one grade in each elementary, middle and high school building during those two weeks, Ferebee said he hopes the schools could accommodate in-person learning during the optional program.

This summer-like-never-before will end Aug. 31. That’s when students will go back to school, Bowser announced Friday. Whether they will resume school in person or virtually has yet to be decided.

Nora Caplan, who served for decades as a Maryland librarian, dies of covid-19

4:27 p.m.
Link copied
link

Nora Caplan, 93, of Sandy Spring, Md., had three goals she wanted to achieve: have children, travel to England to places she had read about in books, and publish a book of her own.

She accomplished all three, said her daughter, before she died in late April at Friends House, a retirement community where family members suspect she contracted the novel coronavirus.

Lisa Caplan Dane described her mother as a vibrant and friendly woman who enjoyed sharing stories of her childhood and travels in a column she wrote for a community newspaper.

In the days before she died, Caplan would talk with a former minister who lived on her floor, her daughter said. A stroke had left the minister unable to speak, but Caplan did the talking and showed him pictures of her family.

“His eyes lit up when she visited him,” Dane said. “All the talking was on her side but he could hear, and up until the week before her death, mom was motivated to connect with people.”