02:53 GMT09 April 2020
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    Washington, DC’s cherry blossoms have reached peak bloom, the US National Park Service announced Friday. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic also in full force, the pink and white blossoms won’t be getting a lot of visitors this year.

    The March 20 peak bloom is the earliest since 2012, when it also took place on March 20. Usually, more than 1.5 million visitors flock to take a look at the cherry blossoms. However, due to the coronavirus, local officials are advising people to avoid visiting the blossoms. Officials will livestream a feed of the Tidal Basin reservoir where the blossoms are located so people can enjoy them from the safety of their own homes.

    ​“Washington DC’s cherry blossoms signal the arrival of spring and symbolize hope, renewal, and friendship. With fewer visitors expected to see the blooming cherry trees in person this year, the Trust for the National Mall along with its partners, the National Park Service and The National Cherry Blossom Festival, are bringing the beloved and blooming Cherry Trees to YOU during their ‘peak bloom’ time, so that you can enjoy them this season from the comfort of your home or wherever you are around the world!” the National Mall website says on its livestream video page.

    ​The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a series of events between March 20 and April 12 that celebrates the 1912 Japanese gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the US capital. However, the festival events have been canceled this year. In addition, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced this week that it was shutting down the Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery rail stations to prevent people from going to see the blossoms. 

    Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser reported Friday the first coronavirus-related death in the nation's capital.

    "It is with great sadness that we announce a tragic death and, on behalf of our residents, I share our love and condolences with the patient’s family and friends," Bowser tweeted.

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    cherry blossoms, coronavirus, COVID-19, Washington DC
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