“Today is a big step for us, moving into Phase One,” Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said at his Friday briefing in Richmond, before urging Virginians to remain vigilant about washing their hands, staying home when possible and wearing masks in public. “The last thing that we need as a health issue, the last thing we need as an economic issue is to have to go back to where we’ve been. So let’s work together and not let that happen.”
The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) canceled its massive August convention in Ocean City for the first time in its 90-year history. The event is a fixture on Maryland’s political calendar.
Baltimore City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton, who serves as MACo president, said the organization’s board of directors did not make the decision lightly.
“Our ways of life have been uprooted and we are all working together to keep ourselves, our families, and our vulnerable community members safe,” she said in a statement. “To that end, my colleagues and I . . . feel that the most responsible and respectful decision available to us is to cancel this year’s MACo Summer Conference.”
The District, Maryland and Virginia reported 77 new deaths and 2,077 new infections Friday, boosting the total caseload across the three jurisdictions to 72,529.
In less populous and hard-hit parts of the greater Washington region, nail salons, barbershops, furniture stores, exercise studios and other establishments rolled out the welcome mat for customers eager to restart their lives after weeks of quarantine.
There were lines at barber shops and some stores. But business was slow at Shelf Life Furnishings in downtown Warrenton, Va., which had been closed for more than a month and saw customer traffic dry up well before that.
Owner Lois Moore and her 26-year-old son Noah pulled on masks and unlocked the doors Friday morning. They placed hand sanitizer dispensers inside and arranged artful displays of furniture in parking spaces and on the cobbled sidewalk of Main Street, a sales technique Noah Moore calls “creating a splash.” Most items were 30 percent off.
“We are trying to stay positive,” Noah Moore said.
“I am concerned about digging out of this deep hole,” Lois Moore said, “but I know the community will help.
Despite bright sunshine and temperatures in the 80s, beaches in Virginia remain closed except for solitary exercise and fishing. But Northam told reporters he has been working closely with Virginia Beach and other beach communities eager to reopen for Memorial Day weekend, including Norfolk, Hampton and the Eastern Shore.
Matthew J. Strickler, secretary of natural resources, is working on a “very comprehensive plan” with Virginia Beach, the governor said.
“We’ll continue to work on that through the weekend,” he said. “I’m prepared to make an announcement — probably on Monday — regarding our beaches.”
The mood was far from celebratory in the District, where the small businesses that help give the city its character and vitality remained closed down.
In a move to shore them up, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced that $800,000 in grants will be made available to businesses in Ward 7 and 8.
More than 7,000 businesses citywide applied for a first round of grants for small businesses in late April. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio said that more than 3,000 independent contractors and 2,400 businesses have been offered grants ranging from $1,000 to $14,000.
Bookstores, toy stores, craft stores, office suppliers and other businesses that sell educational materials can also apply for permission to launch curbside service in a process that began Friday.
City officials said they will post daily coronavirus infections and death figures for nursing homes and other skilled-care facilities. As of Friday, 119 of the city’s 368 covid-19 deaths involved residents of those institutions.
In all, 651 people across 19 D.C. facilities have tested positive for the novel coronavirus; 331 are showing symptoms. Among employees, 150 have tested positive, 64 are showing symptoms, and three have died.
Four facilities have reported 10 or more deaths: Transitions Healthcare Capitol City (21), Washington Center for Aging Services (17), Stoddard Baptist (14) and Inspire Rehabilitation & Health Center (10).
The city had 135 new known cases Friday, bringing the total to 6,871. D.C. officials reported 10 additional deaths, bringing the number of fatalities to 368.
Virginia reported 859 new cases, bringing its total to 28,672. The state’s 22 new fatalities raised its death toll to 977.
Maryland reported 1,083 new cases, for a total of 36,986. The state reported 45 new deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 1,911.
Cecil and Harford counties announced Friday that they will follow an amended order by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) allowing nonessential retail stores, churches, manufacturing companies, barber shops and hair salons to reopen, with restrictions.
“We have sacrificed to get to this point and we must keep working together to maintain our progress,” Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R) said in a statement, encouraging county residents to follow social distancing guidelines and other safety precautions.
Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy (R) called it a “good day” and said he wished he could lift more restrictions, including allowing restaurants to resume outdoor dining.
“While the county can be more restrictive than the state, we cannot remove restrictions that the governor retains in place,” McCarthy said at a news conference. “Just like you, I would love to dine at one of our local restaurants and more than anything put those business owners, servers and workers back to work.”
Maryland’s most populous jurisdictions — Montgomery and Prince George’s counties — have opted out of reopening, as has Baltimore City.
Anne Arundel County modified the governor’s plan, limiting non-essential retail sales to curbside only and prohibiting worship services of more than 10 people. Frederick County also modified it to place additional restrictions on retail.
Baltimore County also will allow curbside retail but will prohibit churches, hair salons and barber shops from resuming operations. Howard County will allow curbside retail and permit churches to open with 10 or fewer people. Charles County said it will ease restrictions starting May 29.
Rachel Chason, Hannah Natanson, Laura Vozzella and Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.