16 coronavirus cases confirmed in DC, Md. and Va.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a news conference in Annapolis on Monday, March 9, 2020. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Sixteen people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have tested positive for coronavirus, officials say.

Shortly after D.C. confirmed three new coronavirus cases Monday night, bringing the city’s total to five, Maryland confirmed its sixth case and Virginia confirmed two new cases — a second in the City of Fairfax and another in Spotsylvania County — bringing the total in Virginia to five.

One patient was identified as the wife of a Fairfax man previously announced as the city’s first case. Both the husband and wife went on a Nile River cruise together. The other is a resident of the northwest region of Spotslvania County who is in their 50s.

Both new Virginia cases are thought to be unrelated.

The latest in Maryland

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday night that state officials identified a Prince George’s County resident who contracted the COVID-19 virus during out-of-state travel, bringing the total number of cases in the state to six.

While there aren’t any reports of transmission in the state, Hogan asked people over 60 to stay home because they are most at risk.

The Prince George’s County resident contracted the virus during out-of-state travel, Hogan said. An initial investigation by the Maryland Department of Health said that there appears to be no major concerns over exposure risk to the community, and there is no connection to previous cases.

Hogan’s emergency response team is scheduled to meet Tuesday. State officials also have plans to meet with representatives from Maryland’s long-term care community.

“The vice president and federal health officials continue to stress that as we begin to expand our testing, we can expect the number of cases to continue to rise,” Hogan said. “We will begin shifting from containment to mitigation. We also want to make it clear, and this is a bit of good news, that children and young adults are less vulnerable to this coronavirus.”

Hogan’s administration signed legislation enabling up to $50 million from the state’s rainy day fund to be used to pay for the state’s emergency response to coronavirus.

Earlier Monday, Hogan gave more information about the two other Maryland residents who contracted the virus while abroad. He said several Maryland residents were aboard cruise ships on which other passengers tested positive for coronavirus.

A Harford County woman in her 80s contracted the virus while traveling to Turkey, Hogan said. She is currently hospitalized. He said it’s the first reported case to be associated with travel to Turkey.

The Montgomery County man in his 60s who tested positive recently traveled to Thailand and Egypt, was briefly hospitalized and is now quarantined.

“In both of these most recent cases, our team at the Maryland Department of Health believes that there are no major concerns regarding potential exposure risk to the community,” Hogan said at a news conference Monday. “Neither of these individuals attended any gatherings or events.”

The first three confirmed cases in Maryland involved Montgomery County residents who had contracted the virus while on a Nile River cruise in Egypt.

There isn’t a connection between the new patients and the previous ones, Hogan said.

Six other Maryland residents recently traveled on the same Egyptian cruise ship but on different dates, Hogan said. The state’s health department has contacted the six passengers. Two of the six have exhibited symptoms, Hogan said, and all six are quarantined and being tested for COVID-19.

Twelve passengers from Maryland are currently aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, which is docking off the California coast Monday, Hogan said. The ship is known to have had at least 21 passengers who tested positive for the virus.

None of the 12 is exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus but will be transported through military bases in Texas and Georgia for medical exams and to be quarantined, Hogan said.

In Montgomery County, out of an abundance of caution, County Council President Sidney Katz said two county events have been postponed. One was a town hall on Wednesday at Leisure World, a retirement community in Silver Spring. The second event called off was a public forum by the council’s Transportation and Environment Committee, scheduled for Monday night in Rockville.

“If we can avoid these types of mass gatherings, we should do that,” Katz said Monday.

Katz said the county has a plan for county workers, which includes provisions for telework, if needed. He added that employees are being urged to stay home if they have flu-like symptoms.

“Bottom line is they don’t want anyone coming to work who is sick,” Katz said.

He said at schools and county facilities, there will be increased cleanings of shared surfaces. As for if and when schools should close because of the illness, Katz said that is up to the state.

Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Monica Goldson said in a message to the community Monday that the school system is following guidance from county and state health officials.

“We encourage parents and guardians to keep their children home from school if they are sick. Effective immediately, we will not require a physician’s note for absences exceeding three days. A parent’s note with contact information will be required for the absence to be considered lawful,” Goldon said.

She added that “any missed days of school or work due to coronavirus-related closures will be treated the same as inclement weather/emergency closings,” a decision that came after consulting with the state’s Department of Education.

What’s happening in DC

On Monday night, D.C. officials announced that an additional three cases of coronavirus have been confirmed.

One of the patients is a 39-year-old man who attended Christ Church in Georgetown, where the church’s rector previously tested positive.

The other two are men in their 70s, one of whom attended a Biogen conference in Boston where other positive cases have been reported.

The newest case involving the Christ Church in Georgetown was announced after D.C. health officials recommended that anyone who visited the church on Feb. 24, or between Feb. 28 and March 3, self-quarantine as a precaution after the rector tested positive for coronavirus.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city’s health department continues to investigate whether any exposure occurred at the church, and asked those who attended services on those dates to self-quarantine for 14 days after the most recent day they visited — regardless of whether they are feeling ill.

The Rev. Timothy Cole was named as D.C.’s first confirmed case on the organization’s Facebook page. The recommended self-quarantine is likely to impact hundreds.

Parishioner Catherine Porter is one of the many under self-quarantine. She said she had been at the church on March 1, and would self-quarantine until March 15.

So far, Porter, her husband and her daughter feel fine, she said, calling the quarantine a “temporary inconvenience,” but that “we’ll get through it just fine.” She added that she was grateful Cole was also doing well.

Nowadays, working from home is not much of an inconvenience, Porter said, and now groceries can be delivered.

“It’s much, much easier than it would’ve been, I’m sure, years ago. I don’t feel all that inconvenienced,” Porter said. “I’m hopeful that most — hopefully all — the parishioners will be fine and healthy.”

With the news of people being quarantined on cruise ships, Porter said it was “a lot, lot easier” being quarantined in her own home. A cruise-ship quarantine “sounds much worse,” she said.

Starting this weekend, the church paused all activities until further notice out of an abundance of caution. Cole remains hospitalized in stable condition.

The D.C. Environmental Film Festival, which was scheduled to run March 12-22, has been canceled, organizers announced Monday afternoon. Organizers are planning a “virtual” festival instead, and may host a smaller version of the festival in the fall.

The mayor is evaluating whether to declare a state of emergency in the District, a move that would empower her to order quarantines and closings. Maryland declared a state of emergency upon confirming its first cases last week.

“This is a fluid situation,” Bowser said. “We continue to ask residents to stay home if they’re sick, and to call a health care provider if they’re sick with symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath.”

A total of $1.5 million — with $1 million recently directed from the contingency cash reserve fund — has so far been allocated to D.C.’s coronavirus response.

D.C. health officials are also retracing the steps of one man who visited the District from Nigeria and later tested positive at a Maryland hospital. Although he is being treated out of state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are counting him as D.C.’s second coronavirus case.

Georgetown Day School closed on Tuesday for a deep cleaning.

On Monday, the School Without Walls, a small Foggy Bottom high school, canceled classes Monday in connection with one coronavirus case — becoming the first public school in the D.C. region to close due to the virus. The D.C. International School in Brightwood also closed Monday for cleaning.

The latest in Northern Virginia

In Northern Virginia, there are a total of five cases of coronavirus.

In addition to the two cases announced Monday night — the Spotsylvania case and the City of Fairfax case, the other three involved people who were exposed through international travel, the Virginia Department of Health said Monday.

They include a Fairfax city resident in his 80s, who first fell ill on Feb. 28 after traveling home from a Nile River cruise, an Arlington person in their 60s who works in a JBG Smith Crystal City office building and a Marine at Fort Belvoir.

JBG Smith issued the following statement:

We were notified this afternoon that an employee of a tenant that occupies space at both 201 12th Street and 1225 South Clark Street has a confirmed case of COVID-19.   Upon learning of the positive test, the tenant immediately notified its staff and advised anyone who had been in contact with the individual to self-quarantine. The tenant has already engaged an environmental contractor to fully disinfect and sanitize all of its spaces in both buildings.  At the same time, JBG SMITH is working with our cleaning team to similarly treat the lobbies and common areas of both buildings, as well as the neighboring buildings in the five-building Crystal Gateways complex.  Additionally, we will be replacing all of the air filters and following up with a second deep cleaning after business hours. The ongoing health and well-being of our tenants, employees, vendors, and visitors to our buildings is our top priority.  We are regularly monitoring developments related to the coronavirus and will continue to follow all of the guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and local health authorities.

The infected Marine had been abroad on official business, the Pentagon said Saturday. He is being treated at Fort Belvoir but resides at Marine Corps Base Quantico; likewise, Quantico is operating at code yellow with unscheduled leave authorized as some buildings undergo rigorous cleaning.

Elsewhere, a Loudoun County first responder has self-quarantined after being exposed to someone who has since been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher, Sandra Salathe, Megan Cloherty, Mike Murillo, Teta Alim and Abigail Constantino contributed to this report. 

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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