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The original orders were set to expire Friday, May 15, but Bowser noted that the city still lags behind on several key measures – notably testing for COVID-19 and the slowing of community spread infections – that it needs to meet before the lockdown orders can be lifted.
“The purpose of tracking all of these metrics, of course, is to ensure we’re transitioning from community spread to more isolated clusters of dividers, as we begin a reopening,” Bowser said during a press briefing. “Obviously, we’re not there yet, and not quite ready to begin that phase.”
Bowser added: “I can revise this order at any time to reflect a phase reopening. If the data suggests that we can do that. So, we will extend from May 15 to June 8 until such time that the data say that we can begin a phased reopening.”
While much of the coverage of the virus has focused on the massive number of cases and deaths in the New York City metropolitan area, the Washington, D.C. region is also becoming a hot spot for the coronavirus. As on Wednesday morning, the city had 6,485 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 336 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
Bowser’s announcement comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill take varying approaches to resuming work amid the public health crisis.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the upper chamber of Congress back into session for a series of votes and hearings, drawing criticism from both Democrats and some in his own party amid fears that the lawmakers could spread the virus to their home communities if not properly tested.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the lower chamber of Congress has not reconvened for work.