D.C., Maryland and Virginia combined reported on Tuesday that the most residents died of COVID-19 in a day since May, but efforts to ramp up vaccination are pressing forward.
Maryland’s hospitals are set to receive enough COVID-19 vaccinations this week to give a first dose to all critical front-line staff in hospitals, Gov. Larry Hogan said in a press release.
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From this week's shipments, an additional 29,700 Moderna and Pfizer shots are going to hospitals; 33,100 doses will be given to health departments for first responders and 19,500 will be made available for nursing home residents and staff.
“Local health departments will be able to begin clinics for first responders, and hospitals will have enough doses to vaccinate all of their critical front line staff,” Hogan said.
The state remains in vaccination phase 1a.
Virginia has administered 41,709 vaccine doses, according to state data. More than 227,000 have been distributed.
Some Montgomery County hospitals are reaching their breaking point as they cope with a flood of COVID-19 patients. County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said Tuesday that two hospitals had no ICU bed vacancies. Some hospitals had beds but not enough staff to support them.
COVID case rates are now higher than they were in the spring, and the percentage of acute care beds in use in hospitals are higher than any other time in the pandemic, Gayles said.
Stay home to celebrate New Year’s so you aren’t adding to the burden on hospitals and medical workers; that was County Executive Marc Elrich’s message on Tuesday.
“Some people will be tempted to host gatherings in their homes and invite over friends and families. Don’t do it,” he said.
Also Tuesday in the county, 25 big box retailers were granted exemptions on capacity limits, meaning they can have more than 150 customers indoors. If large retailers don’t follow the rules, though, their letters of approval can be rescinded.
D.C. has opened a web portal that will allow eligible health care workers to schedule a vaccination against COVID-19.
Currently eligible to schedule vaccine appointments are those in group 1A, which includes frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents. Those workers can register for a vaccine using the portal at coronavirus.dc.gov/vaccinatedc.
The website asks health care workers to fill out a questionnaire and give personal information including demographic details and medical history, so the District can determine "readiness" to schedule a vaccination appointment.
Progress is being made on a new vaccine right in our region — in Montgomery County.
Gaithersburg-based Novavax began phase three trials of its COVID vaccine Monday, becoming the fifth company to launch this late-stage trial.
Novavax says it will enroll up to 30,000 volunteers over the age of 18 for the trial. The company has already done trials in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
Novavax plans to test the vaccine specifically for people in harder hit communities: namely Black, Hispanic and Indigenous Americans.
The battle over an indoor dining ban in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, continued Tuesday as a judge considered whether the county executive's order shutting down indoor and outdoor dining was within his power.
A lawsuit brought by restaurant owners claims the order lacks scientific evidence that restaurants are a significant source of COVID-19 spread.
Restaurants can continue to serve until a final decision is made.
They're allowed 25% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors.
What the Data Shows
D.C. reported an additional 193 COVID-19 cases and four deaths on Tuesday. Maryland recorded 1,878 new cases and 63 lives lost. In Virginia, 2,872 new infections and 52 deaths were recorded.
Overall, the region recorded its largest single-day increase in deaths since May with a total of 119.
D.C.’s seven-day average of new cases rose slightly to 234. Maryland’s seven-day average fell to 2,238. Virginia’s seven-day average is down to 2,645, the lowest figure reached in over a week.
In D.C., 232 residents were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday. In Maryland, hospitalizations lowered slightly to 1,725 Tuesday.
The number of patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped to 2,369 in Virginia on Tuesday, setting a new record.
D.C.’s test positivity rate is at 4.3%. The District’s average test turnaround time has fallen down to 2.3 days, but the daily case rate remains in the red zone.
Maryland’s average positivity rate is at 7.52%.
Virginia’s seven-day average positivity rate is up to 12.2%, the highest it’s been since May. More than 4 million tests have been administered in the state since the start of the pandemic.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- New figures from the Virginia Department of Corrections show that two inmates and one staff member who tested positive for the coronavirus have died in recent days.
- The high level of coronavirus cases is putting stress on Northern Virginia hospitals — and the health care professionals who work there.
- 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.
- A professor is using the trust Black Americans have in barbers to make them more comfortable with taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
- 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.
- Help is available for thousands of D.C. residents who have fallen behind on rent payments.
- 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.
- A judge upheld Montgomery County, Maryland's ban on indoor dining.
- D.C. has suspended indoor dining until 5 a.m. on Jan. 15, Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a press release.
- Virginia instituted a curfew and a stricter mask mandate.
- 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%.
- 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.