Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Dec. 16

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

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D.C. surpassed 25,000 cases and Virginia surpassed 250,000 cases on Wednesday. Maryland isn’t far behind, coming in at about 241,000 total infections since the start of the pandemic.

However, the virus' growth appears to be slowing: Seven-day averages are still high compared to any other point in the pandemic but have remained stable the past several days.

While coronavirus has devastated communities of color, some African-Americans and Latinos are reluctant to jump in line for a vaccine created at record speed.

“The health care industry has not been kind to African-Americans and communities of color historically,” said Howard University College of Medicine’s Michael Crawford. “The medical research community has not necessarily had African-American and communities of colors' best interests at mind.”

That puts Howard University Hospital in a unique position to get Black and Hispanic people into new trials for COVID-19 vaccines  — and as physicians and scientists at the table.

Howard is one of four historically Black medical universities in the country working on the issue.

Howard University Hospital is in a unique position to get Black and Latinx people into trials of a COVID-19 vaccine — but also to ensure doctors of color are part of medical research and development. News4's Molette Green reports on the effort to build trust.

“That’s been very important again because you’ve only got four of us in that sphere and you’ve got millions of Black, African-American, minorities across the country,” said Dr. Hugh Mighty, the College of Medicine Dean. “People tend to have to find somewhere to trust.”

Howard’s goal is to recruit as many African-American and Latino community members as possible to clinical trials of a vaccine, Crawford said.

It may be a vital step in reducing the coronavirus death toll in hard-hit communities of color.

You can get more information on participating in trials at

All Maryland hospitals are expected to receive some COVID-19 vaccines in the next two weeks to begin vaccinating critical frontline staff, a state health official said Tuesday.

As the pandemic worsens, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has deployed members of the National Guard to help with the vaccination effort.

At first, the National Guard will provide logistical support and help distribute the shots state-wide, Hogan said.

It's likely only a matter of days before local hospitals receive their doses of the newly approved Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. News4's Aimee Cho reports on what they're doing to prepare.

Once more vaccines are available, the guard will help set up mobile vaccination clinics and respond to outbreaks at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, Hogan said.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be getting residents vaccinated through federal partnerships with CVS and Walgreens. Set up for those clinics is set to begin in about two weeks, Hogan said Tuesday.

First responders’ vaccination clinics could also begin in about two weeks.

In D.C., Kaiser Permanente is set to receive a box with hundreds of shots Wednesday, which D.C. officials said would be the final step in distributing the first rounds of a vaccine.

Montgomery County starts a new day with the return of an indoor dining ban.

It took effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, along with 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.

Laurel, Maryland, is set to join Prince George’s County in suspending indoor dining.

New restrictions take effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The latest rules also limit how many people can be in retail stores to one person or household per 200 square feet or 25% regular capacity, whichever is lower.

What the Data Shows

Although confirmed cases in our region have surpassed significant milestones in recent days, the virus’ growth appears to be slowing.

The seven-day average in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have leveled off over the past four days.

In D.C. the average has remained around the 250 mark since Saturday. In Maryland, average cases have remained at or below the 2,800 mark since Sunday. In Virginia, the seven-day average has decreased every day since Saturday and is at 2,708 as of Wednesday.

D.C. recorded 263 new cases and no additional deaths. Maryland had 2,405 infections and 64 deaths. Virginia recorded an additional 2,854 cases and 32 lives lost on Wednesday.

D.C.’s positivity rate is at 5.8% and Maryland’s is up to 7.49%.

Virginia’s seven-day positivity rate is at 11.4%, the highest rate recorded since late May. That’s more than double the acceptable positivity rate (5%) set by the CDC.

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. Within two weeks, most hospitals are expected to have received some shots.

    The state is expected to receive 155,000 initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 50,700 Pfizer doses and 104,300 Moderna doses.

    The National Guard will assist with distribution and eventually setting up vaccination clinics throughout the state.
  • 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

Although COVID-19 treatments have improved and a vaccine is on the way, even a mild case of the virus can cause long-term complications — including the possibility of erectile dysfunction. Infectious disease expert Dr. Dena Grayson joined LX News with a warning not to let our guards down as we wait for a vaccine.

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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