- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2020

The District recorded its second coronavirus death this weekend, while the Pentagon reported that a contractor in Northern Virginia has become the Defense Department’s first COVID-19 fatality.

The D.C. Department of Health announced in a press release Sunday that a 65-year-old woman with underlying medical conditions had died Saturday night after being admitted to a hospital for the coronavirus.

“We are in a critical phase of this health crisis, and we need everyone doing their part to blunt the spread of the virus,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in the release. “We need people following the guidance of our public health officials, staying at home, and not doing anything to put themselves or our community at risk.”

Miss Bowser has extended the citywide public health emergency to at least April 25, meaning that a ban on gatherings of 50 or more people will remain in effect and that schools, restaurants, bar, playgrounds and libraries will remain closed until then.

Similar restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus are in place in Maryland, where Gov. Larry Hogan indefinitely has barred gatherings of 10 or more people; has closed malls, restaurants, bars, casinos and fitness centers; and has postponed the April 28 primary until June 2. Maryland schools are to be closed at least until Friday.



Mr. Hogan also has directed Maryland National Guard troops to set up tents in the parking lot of FedEx Field in Landover for coronavirus testing.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has closed schools until Friday but has allowed businesses to stay open so long as they permit only 10 customers inside at a time.

As of Sunday morning, the greater Washington area had recorded at least seven deaths. The District had tallied 98 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Maryland 244 and Virginia 152.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced Sunday that a defense contractor who worked at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and had tested positive for the coronavirus died Saturday at a hospital in Crystal City.

“Our condolences go out to his family, friends and co-workers and we thank the medical professionals who worked to save his life in the face of this virus,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

The Pentagon said that the areas where the contractor worked have been cleaned and the contractor’s colleagues have been working remotely.

“The Department remains committed to protecting our service members, their families, and our civilian co-workers,” the statement said.

On Friday, the Air Force confirmed that an active-duty airman and an Air Force contractor had tested positive for COVID-19 and had visited the Pentagon in weeks prior.

At least 124 military-related coronavirus cases have been confirmed, including 67 service members, 15 civilians, 26 dependents and 16 contractors.

The commander who oversees Army bases in the Washington area has raised the threat level for the coronavirus because of a “sustained possibility of community transmissions.”

Maj. Gen. Omar Jones IV, commander of the Army Military District of Washington, late Saturday raised the health protection condition from Bravo (moderate disease threat) to Charlie.

The order affects personnel at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Fort Myer-Henderson Hall, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery; and Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, home to the National Security Agency.

Gen. Jones also declared a “public health emergency” at Fort Belvoir and Fort Meade. He said the move gives him broader authority to protect service members and their families.

The order comes as virus infections are rising in Maryland, the District and Virginia.

“Ensuring the health and safety of our Soldiers, Families and civilians is one of my greatest responsibilities,” Gen. Jones said in a written statement. “We will continue to work with individual installations to make certain each post has capabilities to protect our people and mitigate the spread of the virus.”

His order means, among other restrictions, there will be further “cancellation[s] of in-person gatherings — all commercial activities such as commissaries, exchange services must keep a distance of six feet between customers.”

The Army also said to prepare “for the potential of limited access to supplies and services, including restricted access to military installations.”

Rowan Scarborough contributed to this report.

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