As Americans gather with family for Christmas, officials worry it could exacerbate already surging numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths.
The U.S. has recorded more than 18 million coronavirus cases and over 329,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to a tally by NBC News.
But there are reasons for hope: 1 million Americans have now received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Maryland and Virginia both launched their coronavirus vaccine dashboards on Wednesday, Dec. 23.
According to Maryland's dashboard, 16,902 people have already been vaccinated – about .28% of the state's population.
Within Maryland, 9,707 doses were administered in Baltimore, 2,954 in the National Capital region, 2,022 in the Eastern Shore, 625 in Western Maryland and 279 in Southern Maryland.
Demographic data shows that 22.2% of those receiving the initial vaccinations in Maryland are between 30 to 39 years old. The majority are also male (66.1%) or white (68.5%).
In Virginia, 43,043 doses have been administered, according to the dashboard. That's about .5% of the population in Virginia.
In our region, 1,088 people in Arlington County, 3,658 people in Fairfax County, 721 in Prince William County, 798 in Loudoun County, and 179 in Stafford County have all been vaccinated.
In contrast, Virginia's vaccine recipients skew female (59.7%), however they are typically in the same age range as those recipients in Maryland. About one fourth are between 30 to 39 years old.
Racial data for those vaccinated in Virginia is too insufficient to draw meaningful conclusions. Less than 15% of vaccine recipients in Virginia reported their race.
D.C. has administered more than 4,500 doses of the vaccine as of Monday.
A judge upheld Montgomery County, Maryland's ban on indoor dining Wednesday evening.
Another hearing will be held in 10 days.
Thirty-three restaurants sued to stop County Executive Marc Elrich’s executive order banning indoor dining, saying outdoor and carryout dining only bring in about 25% of the revenue they need.
The attorney for the restaurants says the indoor dining ban causes “irreparable harm … a certain death knell to the restaurant industry.”
Montgomery County lawyers argued Elrich issued the executive order and the county council approved it and a temporary restraining order “would undermine steps to protect residents of Montgomery County. It would put countless people at risk of infection and death.”
D.C.'s suspension of indoor dining is now in effect, prohibiting restaurants from seating customers until 5 a.m. on Jan. 15, 2021.
Some restauranteurs are understanding but also frustrated at the loss of revenue.
"It's definitely going to hurt business," said Oji Abbott, the owner of soul food restaurant restaurant Oohs and Aahs. "You can't bring in the revenue you need to sustain and thrive."
Other restrictions are also in effect until Jan. 15: Capacity is limited at retail stores to 25% or 250 people, museums and libraries can't welcome visitors and tours are paused.
What the Data Shows
D.C. did not release new coronavirus metrics on Christmas Day, "out of respect for the health professionals who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic," according to D.C.'s COVID-19 digital hub.
The data report sent on Saturday, December 26, will include numbers from Dec. 24. while the report sent on Sunday, December 27, will include numbers from Dec. 25 and 26.
Maryland also did not release any new COVID-19 metrics on Friday.
Virginia reported 2,813 new infections and five additional lives lost to the virus on Christmas Day.
Virginia's rolling seven-day average also hit a record high of 3,007 cases Friday. Hospitalizations dropped slightly to 2,206.
Overall in our region, compared to Thanksgiving Day, seven-day averages of new cases are up. They’ve risen in D.C. from 151 to 229; in Maryland from 2,250 to 2,392 and in Virginia from 2,036 to 3,007.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- The stress of the pandemic is a grind. A data analysis from the American Dental Association shows a surge in cases of teeth grinding, clenching and cracking during the COVID-19 crisis. The increases are striking and potentially costly and painful for sufferers.
- 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.
- A professor is using the trust Black Americans have in barbers to make them more comfortable with taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Meet "The First Five," the group of D.C. emergency responders who will be the first members of the D.C. Fire and EMS Department to get the COVID-19 vaccine this coming week.
- A rapid antigen test might seem like a great idea when you're in a hurry and don't have time to wait a few days for results, but those tests are really designed for people with COVID-19 symptoms and in asymptomatic patients can deliver false positive results.
- News4 has obtained a list of two dozen Maryland hospitals expected to receive the first shipment of Pfizer vaccines once it receives emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
- Health officials in Virginia say they'll likely have to scale back on contact tracing because coronavirus transmission levels are rising so high.
- Help is available for thousands of D.C. residents who have fallen behind on rent payments.
- D.C. Public Schools is preparing for an ambitious pilot program in which it will regularly test some students and staff for the coronavirus.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced measures to boost the number of available health care workers and plan for more hospital beds.
- COVID-19 numbers continue to paint a dire picture for Black Americans, and there is an ongoing effort in the Black community to increase testing.
- D.C. is set to suspend indoor dining starting Dec. 23 at 10 p.m. and continuing until 5 a.m. on Jan. 15, Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a press release.
- Virginia instituted a curfew and a stricter mask mandate.
- Montgomery County's executive has proposed suspending indoor dining, tighter capacity limits at religious institutions and other new restrictions that would take effect 5 p.m. Tuesday, if approved by the county council.
- Maryland tightened restrictions on businesses, bars and restaurants.
- All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo closed because of rising COVID-19 cases, officials announced.
- Hours before some Fairfax County students were set to return to in-person learning, the school district said that they needed to delay the plan.
- Courts throughout Maryland partially shut down due to the pandemic.
- Virginia announced new measures to fight COVID-19 as cases of the virus have spiked across the country.
- Prince George's County tightened restrictions and required masks to be worn outdoors.
- Montgomery County reduced capacity limits at many businesses, including for indoor dining, to 25%. The county previously stopped giving waivers for alcohol sales after 10 p.m.
- D.C.'s mayor extended the city's coronavirus state of emergency to last through the end of the year.
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.