District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday ordered a one-month extension of the state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic, as cases in the region grow at a rapid pace.
There were over 20,000 patients with confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the capital and the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland as of Thursday evening, a figure that has doubled in just one week, according to The Washington Post.
A secretive military task force charged with securing Washington was activated on March 16 to deal with the public health crisis, the Newsweek said in a report on Thursday.
Created in 2004, the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) is responsible for the security of Washington and the surrounding cities in Virginia and Maryland.
The task force is charged with facilitating continuity of government, particularly moving civil and military leaders to secret locations were the order given to evacuate the city.
"No one wants to talk evacuation, especially when there's nowhere to go," an unnamed senior military officer told Newsweek.
The United States, with the world’s third-largest population, has now suffered the greatest number of reported fatalities from the coronavirus, ahead of Italy and Spain.
More than 670,000 people in the US have been infected with the coronavirus and over 33,000 have died as of Friday morning, according to a Reuters tally.
A few dozen protesters gathered in Virginia's state capital of Richmond on Thursday in defiance of Governor Ralph Northam's stay-at-home mandate to combat the pandemic, the latest in a series of demonstrations this week across the US.