May 23, 2020 - Health

D.C. and its suburbs have some of the worst coronavirus rates in the U.S.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser talks during the District's daily Covid-19 response update

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaking during the District's daily Covid-19 response update on May 22, 2020. Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Trump administration's lead coronavirus task force coordinator said Friday that Washington, D.C., and its surrounding suburbs have some of the highest rates of positive coronavirus tests in the U.S., The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: D.C., along with its Virginia and Maryland outskirts, have enforced similar restrictions and stay-at-home orders as other communities across the country, but aren't seeing the same results. Deborah Birx said 42 states have a less-than-10% positive-test rate.

  • Birx added that she asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with officials in D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles “to really understand where these new cases are coming from and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future.”

The state of play: Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan have both said most of their states' infections are clustered in the densely populated suburbs closest to D.C., the Post notes.

  • The two governors started relaxing restrictions last week, but D.C. suburbs have either been exempt or are deferring to local leaders.
  • Northam has warned residents in northern Virginia to avoid traveling for Memorial Day weekend.
  • A spokesperson for Hogan told the Post the decision to begin reopening was based on "key metrics," such as hospitalization rates and ICU bed use, which are at four-week lows.

By the numbers: D.C. has nearly 8,000 confirmed cases, according to John Hopkins University.

  • There are about 1,800 confirmed cases in Arlington County, just outside of D.C.
  • There are a little over 13,000 confirmed cases in Prince George County, Maryland.

What to watch: D.C. Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser is expected to announce Tuesday whether she will ease restrictions at the end of next week, per the Post.

  • She announced Friday that public swimming pools will remain closed, along with modifications to summer and city-sponsored job programs to avoid in-person contact.
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