- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2020

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday she would extend the city’s public health emergency through the end of April as the city records its first death from COVID-19.

The move means D.C. Public Schools will be closed until April 27, with public charter schools expected to follow that timeline, as well.

The city’s ban on mass gatherings also is being extended until April 25. All DCPS and Department of Parks and Recreation parks and playgrounds will be closed until the end of April as well.

Deputy Mayor Paul Kihn said the city has applied for waivers to cancel school standardized tests.

“We need anyone who is not performing an essential service or activity to stay home,” said Ms. Bowser at a press conference Friday. “Don’t treat this like a normal weekend, there will be more weekends, more nice days, and right now we are all focused on flattening the curve.”

A 59-year-old man, who had a complicated medical history, died Friday of COVID-19. He was admitted to the hospital a week ago.

Almost 12,000 D.C. residents have applied for unemployment benefits, more than the city received during the partial government shutdown last year, said Unique Morris-Hughes, director of the District’s Office of Employee Services.

Ms. Morris-Hughes said residents do not have to wait seven days to receive unemployment benefits during the pandemic. The requirements for ability and searching for work have both been eliminated as well.

Acting Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio said the city is setting up a $25 million recovery fund, which will be open for applications next week. The fund will be used for short-term financial assistance for nonprofits, businesses, independent contractors and self-employed residents.

Ms. Bowser confirmed that a Metropolitan Police Department detective, who is a Maryland resident, has tested positive for COVID-19.

On Thursday, police Chief Peter Newsham said he has not seen an uptick in any kind of crime, including domestic violence, during the public health emergency.

Currently, 71 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the District, and Ms. Bowser said she expects that number to spike.

• Sophie Kaplan can be reached at skaplan@washingtontimes.com.

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