The District of Columbia, seat of the US federal government, extended its stay-at-home orderthrough June 8, the mayor said on Wednesday.
The stay-at-home order, intended to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, had beenscheduled to end on May 15.
Mayor Muriel Bowser left open the possibility that the US capital could reopen sooner, tellingreporters that if it hit certain metrics including a declining number of cases over 14 days andsustained low transmission rate, she could move to open sooner.
Washington has reported 6,584 cases of the coronavirus and 350 deaths so far. Though Bowsersaid the data reflected some encouraging signs, she said, "We are not there yet."
'We're not there yet and not quite ready to begin that phased new opening,' Bowser said at apress briefing.
'We will continue to follow the advice of our health officials. Rushing to reopen could have tragicresults.'
Medical experts recommend states and regions do not reopen until they have recorded a 14-day decline in new coronavirus cases.
Other criteria for reopening have been met, however, including the required capacity fortesting, Bowser said.
The announcement came as the White House pushes for states to reopen businesses whilepublic health experts urge caution. Top US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci testified inthe Senate on Tuesday his concerns that ending lockdowns could lead to uncontrollableoutbreaks.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate panelthe virus epidemic is not yet under control in areas of the nation and urged states to followadvice of witnessing a declining number of new infections before reopening.
'I think we're going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have by anymeans total control of this outbreak,' Fauci said.
Both Maryland and Virginia, neighboring states where many workers in the US federalgovernment live, have moved to reopen some businesses in parts of their states, but thesuburbs immediately surrounding Washington have remained largely closed.
Government is considered an essential service, with many workers are currently working fromhome.
"We know that government is essential and the work of the government is essential, especially our lawmakers. What I have encouraged the federal government to do is to keep asmany people on tele-work as possible," Bowser said.
Senators returned to Washington earlier this month after six weeks at home. The congressionalphysician has advised lawmakers to wear masks, stay six feet (two meters) apart and limit thenumber of staff on Capitol Hill.
News that lockdown will continue will no doubt be unwelcome news to the city's most famousresident, President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly urged the US to reopen for business assoon as possible.
However, when asked by reporters if there had been pressure from the president to reopenthe nation's capital, Bowser said there had not been.
Most states have started easing their stay-at-home orders despite rising COVID-19 cases anddeaths and repeated warnings from medical experts that there could be renewed spikes infigures if they reopen for business too soon.
A revised forecast model relied on by the White House is now projecting 147,000 Americanscould die in the pandemic by August - an increase of 10,000 on projections from just two daysago - due to the easing of social distancing measures across much of the US.