More dire statements are coming from the country's top infectious disease experts after the U.S. on Thursday say set another record for COVID-19 deaths.
The data is clear: D.C., Maryland and Virginia haven’t been spared from the massive surge and worsening pandemic. Diagnoses and hospitalizations are up, as are the percent of tests coming back positive.
The region broke its record for most coronavirus cases diagnosed in a single day Friday, hitting 5,928. Most of those diagnoses were in Maryland, which also broke a record in diagnosing 3,792 cases.
Seven-day averages of new cases grew again Friday after a slowdown.
A total of 32 people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia died in the past day from COVID-19.
Amid the surge, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is telling Americans to avoid travel at all costs, even though it’s difficult to stay apart during the holiday season.
“Don’t travel, don’t congregate together. I know how difficult that is,” Fauci said. “Right now, that just should not be done.”
Separately, President-elect Joe Biden has asked Fauci to stay on in his administration, “in the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents,” as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nation's top infectious-disease expert.
Biden said he asked Fauci to be a chief medical adviser as well as part of his COVID-19 advisory team. Fauci told NBC's “Today” show on Friday, “I said yes right on the spot.”
As cases surge in the District, officials say the city will not get enough COVID-19 vaccines in the first round to cover even 10% percent of healthcare workers.
That's because the number of doses is based on the city's population and does not account for anyone who commutes from Maryland or Virginia.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a letter to federal officials Thursday, calling this "woefully insufficient."
DC Health Director, Doctor LaQuandra Nesbitt, warns that if this calculation is used in the future the problem for D.C. will only get worse.
Virginia Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is among the bipartisan group of lawmakers working to get a relief bill passed before the new year.
She says failing to pass a bill is not an option.
“To do anything else is an absolute abdication of the responsibility of every single person who works in this building,” she said while standing outside the Capitol.
The Montgomery County School Board discussed reopening plans at Thursday’s meeting.
Some board members say they're concerned about the negative impact distance learning could be posing for some students.
They ultimately voted to delay deciding on whether to bring students back until later this month, but Superintendent Jack Smith laid out a tentative timeline.
Small groups of students could come back in January, then schools would start phasing in more groups of students at the start of the second semester on Feb. 1, Smith said.
Delaware's governor announced a new stay-at-home advisory in hopes of slowing the surge.
It strongly advises all people in the state to avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside their household from Dec. 14 to Jan. 11.
People must also wear a mask anytime they are indoors with anyone outside their immediate household.
What the Data Shows
Maryland reported its largest-ever one day increase in coronavirus cases on Friday, counting 3,792 new infections.
Another 24 Marylanders died from the disease.
Hospitalizations are also up and now 1,594 Marylanders are being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals.
The positivity rate has hit 8%, above the goal of 5%.
Virginia ended a dayslong streak of declining coronavirus cases. On Friday, 1,820 new cases were reported.
Another seven Virginians died of the disease. Hospitalizations continue to rise, with 1,486 patients on Friday.
The positivity rate is the highest in the region at 9.8%.
D.C. reported 316 new coronavirus cases on Friday, which pulled the seven-day average upward to 220.
It’s the third time this month and fourth time ever that D.C. reported more than 300 cases in a single day.
One resident died, a 76-year-old man.
D.C.’s daily case rate has hit 29.04 cases per 100,000 residents daily. In phase two, officials’ goal is to have the rate at under 15. Mean test turnaround time is also growing, hitting 3.9 on average.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- If federal regulators authorize two COVID-19 vaccine candidates, Virginia expects to receive enough doses by the year's end to begin inoculating nearly all of its health care workers and long-term care facility residents, officials said Friday.
- 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.
- The initial wave of vaccines likely won’t come close to covering all health care workers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
- Despite rising COVID-19 cases in the D.C. region, thousands of Northern Virginia students returned to the classroom Tuesday and began hybrid learning.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced measures on Tuesday to boost the number of available health care workers and plan for more hospital beds.
- Thousands of Northern Virginia students returned to classrooms in Loudoun and Prine William counties Tuesday to begin hybrid learning.
- Some Fairfax County students have returned to all-virtual learning amid a rise in coronavirus cases.
- 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.
- Officials have reversed a decision to cancel the annual Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery. The event, held in December, will happen after all.
- Maryland released a new contact tracing app, and has reduced indoor operations for bars and restaurants from 75% to 50% in response to rising coronavirus cases and increased hospitalizations.
- 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
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.