Governors in Maryland and Virginia began a gradual reopening of their states on Friday, saying metrics showed they could safely reopen many areas with additional safety and social distancing measures in place. Leaders in Northern Virginia, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and the District have decided to maintain stay-at-home orders because of an increased rate of infections.
Despite both states taking steps to reopen, it has been status quo for the more than 5 million residents in the immediate Washington region. The cities of Richmond and Baltimore, and Maryland’s Charles County, also have decided to keep restrictions in place.
As a result, 31 percent of Virginians and 45 percent of Marylanders — as well as all Washingtonians — remain under stay-at-home orders.
Data has suggested that the virus can spread more easily in densely populated areas.
The Washington metro area has 1,602 residents per square mile, while portions of Maryland and Virginia outside the region have 218 residents per square mile, according to a Washington Post analysis.
By comparison, the District, which is included in the metro area numbers, has a density of 11,196 residents per square mile. (The Washington metro area, for the purposes of this analysis, includes the District; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; Virginia’s Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties; and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park, also in Virginia.)
The Washington metro area makes up 60 percent of the average daily infections in the District, Maryland and Virginia, and 59 percent of daily average deaths, based on a seven-day rolling average — even as the region makes up 35 percent of that area’s population.
In Maryland, jurisdictions with restrictions still in place are among the state’s most densely populated areas, with 1,795 residents per square mile, much higher than the 401 residents per square mile outside that area. Prince George’s and Montgomery counties make up 53 percent of the state’s reported daily average infections.
Northern Virginia, where restrictions are also still in place, has 1,424 residents per square mile, a density that is eight times higher than elsewhere in the state.
The daily infection rate for Virginia counties outside the Washington suburbs is 5 per every 100,000 residents. That jumps to 23 per every 100,000 residents in Northern Virginia. The daily rate in the District is 20 cases per 100,000 residents.