WASHINGTON — The DMV could start easing social distancing guidelines by June 8 if it implements rigorous containment strategies, according to new projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
The projection is part of a new tool published by IHME, and is based on when the research center estimates COVID-19 infections in the DMV could drop to 1 per 1 million people in the DMV. Based on their current disease trajectories, the date is the same for D.C., Maryland and Virginia: June 8.
Other states could potentially start easing things up even earlier, like West Virginia, for example, which IHME estimates could do so as early as May 7.
“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.”
IHME says the 1 infection per 1 million people target is “a conservative estimate of the number of infections each location could feasibly manage using containment strategies (testing, tracing, isolation, and limiting large gatherings) to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19.”
An important part of the equation, and one of the steps in the White House’s “Opening Up America” plan, is a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and coronavirus cases. While the growth of new cases has slowed significantly in the DMV, over the past week they have still increased by 5-9% each day.
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.
On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced he was allowing the state’s barbershops and salons to open to service essential personnel only. Such businesses may only provide services to customers on an appointment basis, and may only have one customer in the establishment at a time.
In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said the District Department of Transportation will temporarily extend sidewalks near grocery stores and other essential retailers to allow pedestrians enough space to practice social distancing. The District is also requiring all residents to wear masks while shopping in stores.
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam has recommended people wear masks, but has not issued an executive order requiring them.