Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Dec. 22

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

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This year has been the deadliest in US history, with deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time — due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States has recorded more than 18 million COVID-19 cases and over 319,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to a tally by NBC News.

Northern Virginia only has about 500 open beds because across the Commonwealth there are now more COVID-19 patients in the hospital than at any other time during the pandemic.

In Northern Virginia, hospitals only have a few hundred beds left until they reach capacity. Northern Virginia Bureau Reporter Drew Wilder talked with the president of Inova Fairfax, who said hospitals can find more space, but he's most worried about his medical staff.

As of Tuesday, 2,166 patients confirmed positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized in Virginia, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

"I am concerned, like everyone else in the country, with the next set of holidays coming in, if we're going to continue to be able to match that demand," said Dr. Narang.

"Take a look at the mirror, every single member of our community, and see what can you do to protect yourself and your neighbor," he said.

In Montgomery County, more than three quarters of all ICU beds are full, officials say. Montgomery County Executive Marc Erich is warning people not to gather in groups for the holidays as infections spread with a “very high risk of transmission.” 

“Vaccines for the general population are still probably months away. They’re not coming tomorrow, they won’t be here in January,” Elrich said, urging people not to let their guards down. 

Public K-12 school enrollment dropped across 33 states by more than 500,000 students, or 2%, in the last year. Previously, enrollment was growing annually.

The data offers the clearest picture yet of the pandemic’s toll on public school enrollment. What's most alarming, educators say, is that many of the students who did not enroll this year may not be in school at all.

Chalkbeat and AP surveyed all 50 states, but 17 have not released comparable enrollment numbers yet.

In Virginia, enrollment has dropped by 3.08%. No data was available for Maryland or D.C. in the report.

A new report paints a sobering picture of the impact that COVID-19 is having on families in the commonwealth.

COVID-19 wiped out nearly a decade of job gains in Virginia in just two months, according to Old Dominion's new State of the Commonwealth report.

According to our news partners at WTOP, from February 2020 to April 2020, about one in nine Virginians were temporarily furloughed or permanently laid off from their jobs.

Food insecurity is also projected to continue rising. The number of individuals receiving SNAP benefits in Virginia jumped from more than 687,000 in March to more than 785,000 in July.

The report also says nearly half of the people across the country going to food banks this year were first-time visitors.

Food insecurity disproportionately affects children, households led by women and households of color.

As of Sunday 10 students and 25 staff at several D.C. public schools have tested positive for COVID-19. 

As a result, 77 students and 41 staff members have been asked to quarantine.

Eight elementary schools – Langley, HD Cooke, Dorothy Height, Powell, Key, Garrison and Ludlow-Taylor elementary schools and Leckie Education Campus – have had cases and have switched to online learning.

President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on live television Monday to demonstrate its safety to the American public.

President-elect Joe Biden received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday. “This is just the beginning,” he said. “I hope people listen to all the experts… talking about the need to wear masks.”

“I don’t want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take," Biden has said of his decision.

Moderna's vaccine, the second to be approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is also starting to arrive in hospitals across the country this week.

Thanks to the expected arrival of thousands of doses of the Moderna vaccine, staff and residents at long-term care facilities in D.C. will now be included in the first wave of coronavirus inoculations in the District, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday. 

The District has already administered more than 4,500 doses of the vaccine. Those doses have gone to front line hospital workers and D.C. Fire and EMS staff. 

“Now we are able to spread the vaccine to other high-risk healthcare workers,” said Dr. Ankoor Shah, of D.C.’s Department of Health.

In order to coordinate the vaccination of these groups, those who have been added to Group 1A will have to register online. That process will begin later this week. 

The District is set to receive 12,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the federal government this week, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday.

An additional 8,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will come from Maryland this week. The Moderna shipments will be allocated among the following sites:

The second and third shipments of the Pfizer vaccine are also expected to arrive this week – 8,775 doses from Virginia and 4,875 from the federal government.

This week, 36,075 additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 104,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine are set to arrive in Maryland, bringing the state's total allocation to 191,075 doses, which is enough to vaccinate 90% of front line hospital workers, according to a Monday update from the office of Gov. Larry Hogan.

“We encourage our hospitals and local health departments to get our critical front line healthcare workers vaccinated as safely and quickly as possible,” said Governor Hogan.

D.C. is suspending indoor dining effective Wednesday at 10 p.m., officials announced last week. The order, which also shuts down museums and libraries, will remain in effect until Jan. 15.

Mayor Muriel Bowser also announced that the state of emergency and public health emergency for D.C. would be extended through March 31, 2021.

The District is following Prince George's and Montgomery counties, which already suspended indoor dining as coronavirus cases rise.

What the Data Shows

Officials in D.C., Maryland and Virginia announced on Tuesday 5,171 additional cases of the virus. Eighty-two more people with COVID-19 died.

The seven-day average of new cases fell in D.C. and Maryland on Tuesday but rose for the third consecutive day in Virginia to 2,776. 

D.C. reported 160 more cases of the virus and two more deaths. Maryland reported 2,324 more cases, and another 51 lives lost. Virginia reported 2,687 cases, and another 29 people died.

The percentage of COVID-19 patients in D.C. hospitals has more than doubled in past month – from 5.5% on Nov. 21 to 11.7% Dec. 20. As of Tuesday, 256 D.C. residents are being hospitalized for the virus.

Hospitalizations in Maryland rose slightly to 1,717 Tuesday.

Virginia has set a new record high Tuesday with 2,166 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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

Anyone can get COVID-19. Here are three simple ways the CDC says you can lower your risk: 

  • 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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