WASHINGTON — Over the past month-and-a-half we've begun to experience a "temporary normal" when it comes to everyday life. Stores, restaurants, beauty salons, movie theaters, concerts, traveling: all canceled, closed, or postponed until further notice.
Millions are practicing social distancing and masks/face coverings are considered an essential item to help slow the spread of the virus.
But as many parts of the country begin Phase 1 of "Opening Up America Again," many, however, are still skeptical about going outside to begin life as it used to be.
In a recent study conducted by the marketing and analytics firm Fishbowl, more than 20,000 professionals were asked a simple question: "If your state were to 're-open' now, would you feel safe going to your workplace?"
The responses, for the most part, were resoundingly the same.
More than 80% responded that they would not feel safe or comfortable going back to work if their state were to re-open now.
Locally, out of the 355 D.C. employees who answered the survey, only 15% responded that they feel safe reopening the city and going back into work. That was the the second-lowest support for reopening in the US.
Maryland ranked third-from-the-bottom, with only 15.28% of respondents answering that they feel safe with their state reopening, and Virginia ranked ninth-from-last, with 17.38% saying the same.
WUSA9 asked users a similar question in an unofficial poll across our social media accounts: "If restrictions were lifted right now, would you feel comfortable going to a restaurant or getting on a plane?"
Across all three platforms, 89% of participants responded with "no" – that they wouldn't feel comfortable going out to eat or flying. However, 15% say they are ready and are comfortable with going to a restaurant or even engaging in travel.
In our Facebook post, viewers seemed to be on the same page in terms of reopening the DMV area too soon.
"No. Because I'm a healthcare worker and two of my children work with the public," one comment reads. "I already know the toll this is taking on those working in hospitals not to mention those who work with the public in grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. Anyone going out now risks increasing the spread of the disease and therefore the length of time the disease will be present in the community."
Others wholeheartedly agreed.
"No. Not at all. Maybe the end of June depending on how infection rates go," another viewer commented.
A recent projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated the D.C. area could start easing social distancing guidelines by June 8 if it implements rigorous containment strategies.
As a part of a new tool published by IHME, the projection is based on when the research center estimates COVID-19 infections in our area could drop to 1 per 1 million people. Based on their current disease trajectories, the date is the same for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia: June 8.
“At that point, it may be possible to relax social distancing, assuming strategies for testing, contact tracing, isolation, and limitations on mass gathering are in place,” IHME says on its site. “The timeline could change based on what data show about the trajectory of the pandemic.”
Other states like Texas and Georgia have already begun rolling out their processes for reopening as early as May 1.
Since March 30, the entire DMV has been under a stay-at-home order, with all non-essential businesses now shut down and masks required at some grocery stores, though each area has a different end date:
- D.C. – May 15
- Maryland – No expiration date
- Virginia – May 8 for non-essential businesses; June 10 for residents.