Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Dec. 15

Here's what to know about the coronavirus data, resources and reopenings across the D.C. area

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Maryland surpassed 5,000 coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began on Tuesday and 1,000 of those fatalities have been reported since the end of October, Gov. Larry Hogan said.

"Yesterday was a day of great hope as the very first Marylanders were vaccinated for COVID-19, but as it is often said, it's always darkest before the dawn," Hogan said in a statement.

Virginia marked a major turning point on Tuesday, as health care workers became the first people in the state to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. An emergency room employee named Yolanda was the first person to get the vaccine in a ceremony at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. She rolled up her sleeve and applauded after receiving the first dose. 

Virginia marked a major turning point on Tuesday, as health care workers became the first people in the state to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. An emergency room employee named Yolanda was the first person to get the vaccine in a ceremony at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

“We are now one Virginian closer to overcoming the pandemic," said the hospital’s chief pharmacy officer, Tim Jennings. 

Gov. Ralph Northam thanked health care workers for their tireless efforts to help patients and their communities. 

A constant flow of COVID-19 vaccines is moving around the country in trucks and airplanes as the country enters the second day of a historic vaccination effort.

Health care workers and first responders began rolling up their sleeves Monday.

George Washington University Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore were among the first in the D.C. area to receive and administer the vaccine to health care workers on Monday.

Getting a shot was emotional for Daisy Solares, a respiratory therapist at the University of Maryland Medical Center whose father who died from COVID-19.

“It means a lot. Basically in honor of him,”Solares said. “He bragged about what I did here.”

On Tuesday, the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines will be given to workers at Howard University Hospital and Valley Health Hospital in Winchester.

Inova expects its delivery of the Pfizer vaccine this week and more people will be vaccinated as soon as possible.

As Pfizer’s shots roll out across the country, regulators are taking steps toward approving a second vaccine.

The staff of the Food and Drug Administration endorsed the emergency use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, a critical step toward approval.

The shot is safe, effective and data from clinical trials was consistent with recommendations for emergency authorization, the FDA said.

The striped barber pole symbolizes a time when barbers provided medical care along with haircuts. While that's not the case now, the trust in barbers remains, and in the Black community, that trust and bond are special. Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports on a professor using that trust to make Black Americans more comfortable with taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Montgomery County Council approved new COVID-19 restrictions that will go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday. 

The order includes the suspension of indoor dining, the reduction of indoor sports gatherings to no more than 10 people and scaling back capacity limits in retail stores. Retail stores are now limited to one person per 200 feet, and 150 people total per retail establishment.

Large retail stores can submit a written request by 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21 if they wish to have more than 150 people in their store after Dec. 23. The request must include plans on how social distancing will be maintained and monitored throughout the store.

Indoor religious gatherings will remain capped at 25% capacity. A written request must be submitted and approved for outdoor religious gatherings with more than 150 people.

A spike in COVID cases has forced Loudoun County students back to 100% virtual learning.

Earlier, the county school board members warned this would happen if cases exceeded certain thresholds.

A school board meeting will be held tonight to discuss when students can return to hybrid-learning.

Montgomery County's school board will discuss plans to get kids back in the classroom today.

Just last week, board members held off on voting for students to return early next year, after getting an update on rising local COVID-19 cases.

Right now, the proposal is to bring some students in special education and career technology education back to class on Jan. 12.

Larger groups would be phased in beginning in February.

What the Data Shows

D.C. saw a large jump in cases Tuesday while Maryland and Virginia reported average increases.

The region reported its second-largest 24-hour increase in deaths since the start of the pandemic with 114 lives lost.

D.C. reported 301 new cases and four additional lives lost. Maryland had 2,401 new infections and 61 lives lost. Virginia had 2,474 new coronavirus cases and 49 deaths.

The seven-day averages in the region have remained relatively level and decreased in some instances. In D.C. the average rose by four cases to 250. Average cases in Maryland decreased by 33 cases to 2,772. In Virginia the seven-day average fell by 93 cases to 2,784.

Hospitalizations, however, are higher than ever. Nearly 2,000 Virginians are hospitalized with confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19, the highest count yet. In Maryland, hospitalizations are also at their highest count, 1,799. In D.C., 242 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Vaccination Plans in DC, Maryland, Virginia

  • Virginia: The Virginia Department of Health estimates there are up to 500,000 health care workers and long-term care facility residents in the state who are among top-priority for vaccines. The state announced Friday that 480,000 doses of vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna could arrive by the end of December.

    “We will focus initially on the groups that have been most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 infections and those whose work puts them at greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 infections," Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver said.
  • Maryland: Maryland will focus its initial COVID-19 vaccinations on hospital-based health care workers, residents of nursing homes and first responders.

    The state is expected to receive 155,000 initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and distribution could begin as early as next week for the Pfizer vaccine and later this month for the Moderna vaccine. That initial figure includes 50,700 Pfizer doses and 104,300 Moderna doses.
  • Washington, D.C.: George Washington University Hospital nurses were among the first in our region to receive COVID-19 shots on Monday. D.C. expects to receive its first 6,825 doses after Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration and distributed, D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt and Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference.

    It's "impossible to lay out an exact timeline, but the rollout will happen in phases in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

    The very first vaccines will go to health care workers and first responders who come into contact with COVID-19 patients. The stages of vaccination are Phase 1A for about 85,000 health care workers and first responders, then Phase 1B for more than 310,000 essential workers and at-risk residents. During Phase 2, the vaccine will first become available to the general public.

Local Coronavirus Headlines

Reopening Tracker

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How to Stay Safe

There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are guidelines from the CDC:

  • Wear a snug-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth. 
  • Avoid being indoors with people who are not members of your household. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19. If you are indoors with people you don’t live with, stay at least six feet apart and keep your mask on. 
  • Wash your hands often, especially after you have been in a public place.
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