“We can’t afford that,” Northam said.
His words of caution came as D.C. officials said Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) will decide this week whether to extend school and business closures beyond the current end date of April 24, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he is talking with scientists, doctors and business leaders about how and when to safely lift Maryland’s restrictions.
Hogan, who leads the National Governors Association, said in an interview on CNN that it is up to governors to decide how to move forward, despite statements by President Trump that he wants to reopen the economy, possibly by May 1.
“We’d love to have the president’s cooperation, but governors made decisions to take various actions in their states based on what they thought was right for their state, based on the facts on the ground, talking with doctors and scientists,” Hogan told Anderson Cooper on “Newsroom.” “I think individual governors who made those decisions will have the ultimate decision about what to do with their states.”
Bowser’s chief of staff, John Falcicchio, said the mayor is coordinating with Hogan and Northam and plans to announce by Friday “how we might safely open certain portions of District government, schools or private business, or extend the current posture.”
Northam told reporters that he plans to extend his shutdown order for nonessential businesses — which currently runs through April 23, even though his stay-at-home order extends through June 10. He said he will announce the new date on Wednesday.
“Just as soon as we can get people’s lives back to normal we will, but we also have to do it safely, and we know right now that the social distancing is working. It has flattened that curve,” Northam said.
Hogan’s general shutdown orders are in place as long as there is a state of emergency, which can be extended for 30 days at a time and was renewed on Friday. Maryland school officials so far have closed schools only through April 24.
Northam said there needs to be “a consistent way of easing these restrictions . . . [with] as little confusion as necessary.”
“The scenario that we don’t want is for Virginia to do one thing and Maryland to do another thing, as far as when, for example, restaurants or bars would open,” he said. “And that’s the case with Washington, D.C., as well.”
Across the three jurisdictions, 3,173 novel coronavirus patients have been hospitalized during the outbreak, according to tallies from state health departments. The number of hospitalizations is up this week compared with last week but falls short of the numbers anticipated in a surge that officials have said could begin as early as mid-April.
Scientists from the University of Virginia and the Rand Corp. said Virginians have cut back on retail and recreational activities by 44 percent, according to mobility data from Google. Visits to grocery stores are down 18 percent, and travel to workplaces is down 39 percent.
“I think the average Virginian really needs to listen to the guidance of the state officials and try to do what they’re asked, because it’s working,” said Chris Barrett, executive director of U-Va.’s Biocomplexity Institute.
Lifting the restrictions could lead quickly to a second wave of infections, the scientists said. State Secretary of Health Dan Carey said Northam’s administration is studying the projections to plan for how and when to ease Virginia out of the current policies, which run through June 10 — looking at the data to find “triggers for when you open a certain amount.”
Bowser said Monday the city was on track to meet its goal of 1,000 extra hospital beds by Wednesday, adding capacity at existing hospitals and their campuses. The District might not need all of them.
LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Health Department, said 295 individuals were currently hospitalized with the virus. There were 94 people in intensive care units and 31 on ventilators. Those figures include nonresidents in D.C. hospitals.
The city has been bracing for an early summer peak in hospitalizations requiring thousands of additional beds. But that is based on a pessimistic model that officials have said will help the city prepare for the worst.
“We are a few weeks behind where the New York metropolitan area is in terms of our new infections, so we would still have to continue to analyze our data,” Falcicchio said.
The number of known cases in the region climbed to 16,661 on Monday, with 464 deaths.
Virginia reported 473 more coronavirus infections, about half of which were in the D.C. suburbs, for a total of 5,763. The state’s total fatalities hit 149.
Maryland reported 711 new infections for a total of 8,939, with 263 deaths. An inmate at Jessup Correctional Institution was the first state prisoner to die of covid-19, and officials in Carroll County announced six more deaths connected to the Pleasant View Nursing Home, bringing the total number of fatalities at the 104-bed facility to 24.
The District added 80 cases, for a total of 1,959, with 53 deaths. Officials also announced the first death of an inmate in the D.C. jail. Deon Crowell, 51, had been held awaiting trail on charges of first-degree murder.
According to data analyzed by The Washington Post, Maryland has led the region in hospitalizations. Between Friday and Sunday, Maryland hospitalized more than 560 people — the state’s highest three-day total so far during the pandemic. Virginia hospitalized about 50 people within the same period.
Virginia reported 903 coronavirus-related hospitalizations on Monday, with 218 of them in the Fairfax health district. Maryland said it has hospitalized 1,975 individuals.
Data analyzed by The Post shows that 11 of the 15 Maryland Zip codes with the highest rates of covid-19 cases are in Prince George’s County, a majority-black suburb of about 900,000 people just outside Washington. The remaining Zip codes in the top 15 are northwest of Baltimore and in rural parts of Frederick County.
As officials discuss how to eventually and safely ease restrictions, they are considering factors including the availability of testing kits and antibody testing.
The District received its first batch of rapid testing kits this week and expects to increase the capacity of its public health lab to 500 a day, officials said Monday. They said they are still determining how to deploy the kits.
“Testing is going to be ongoing, it’s going to be necessary at every stage of our response and recovery,” Bowser said.
Officials also said the District would be prepared to conduct antibody testing in May. Those tests detect whether a person has been exposed to the virus, but not whether they are currently infected. Nesbitt said they are useful for determining whether to lift social distancing requirements.
In Virginia, about 85 scientists and researchers at the Biocomplexity Institute have been developing computer models to chart the possible course of the disease in the state, taking work done elsewhere and adapting it for regional differences and data around Virginia.
Their projections suggest a range of possible trajectories but have led Northam to say he anticipates the peak period of infection to occur sometime between late April and late May.
The researchers found that if Northam’s restrictions were allowed to expire on June 10, with business in the state resuming operations with about half their usual capacity, a steep second wave of coronavirus cases could develop. Left unaddressed, that wave would overwhelm most hospital systems in the state by August — with Northern Virginia being hit soonest and hardest, the researchers said.
Virginia also released data Monday showing a bulk of its major outbreaks are at long-term-care facilities such as nursing homes. It reported fatalities and hospitalizations in each of the state’s 35 regional health districts for the first time.
The Henrico health district, in the greater Richmond area, reported the most deaths: 33. That total doesn’t include all of the 42 fatalities at the Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, the site of one of the country’s largest institutional outbreaks, because of a delay in reporting. Two new deaths were reported at Canterbury over the weekend.
The District’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said nine more members of the department have tested positive for the virus, bringing to 65 the number of firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians who have contracted covid-19. Nearly 300 emergency workers are under quarantine.
Keith L. Alexander, John D. Harden, Peter Hermann, Antonio Olivo, Perry Stein, Rebecca Tan and Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.