CVS is now officially offering vaccination appointments in Maryland and Virginia, but the appointments were quickly booked up — a reminder of the shot scarcity that is complicating schools' reopening plans.
Here's what to know about the fight against COVID-19 in the D.C. area.
DC Confirms First COVID-19 Variant Cases
Variants of COVID-19 have been confirmed for the first time in four patients in Washington, D.C., the District’s health director announced Thursday.
Variants first found in the United Kingdom and South Africa were detected, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told D.C. officials, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said at a news conference.
The variant first found in the United Kingdom was found in three patients; the variant first found in South Africa was found in one person. Information was not immediately released on whether the D.C. patients had recently traveled or were hospitalized.
Back-to-School Safety Standards
Vaccinations are not expected to be a prerequisite for reopening schools when new guidance comes from the White House as early as Friday.
That's been a major sticking point for many local teachers.
The Prince George's County teacher union sent a letter to the school board and the schools system's CEO requesting air filtration systems, virus testing, contact tracing, vaccinations, protective gear for all students and staff and hazard pay.
They want parents, students and the community to participate in all aspects of reopening.
“We want to make sure that the staff and also the students are protected, because they are vulnerable,” said Nicole West, a parent of a student with special needs.
A spokesman for Prince George’s County Public Schools told News4 that it received the letter from the teachers and is working to provide a response to both the union and the public.
CDC’s Newest Mask Guidance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on mask wearing? Make sure you have a tight fit.
Researchers say by knotting the ear loops close to where they meet the fabric and tucking in the edges you can reduce your exposure by more than 95 percent.
Another option is double masking. The CDC found that wearing a cloth mask over a surgical-style mask was just as effective.
CVS to Offer COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments in DC Area
CVS began allowing eligible groups to register to get a COVID-19 vaccine at Maryland and Virginia stores Thursday — and the slots were rapidly booked.
By 11 a.m., slots in every city were labelled “fully booked.”
There was rocky start to CVS pharmacies’ coronavirus vaccine launch in Virginia.
An agreement between CVS and the commonwealth to get people on local health department's waiting lists as priority didn’t work out as planned.
The appointments were accidentally released to the public early and booked up within hours.
CVS tells NBC Washington they will be offering the COVID-19 vaccines at 18 stores in Maryland and at 36 in Virginia in areas including Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Gainesville, Warrenton and Winchester next week.
You can check the vaccine portal at CVS.com, using the CVS app or if you’re offline, calling 1-800-746-7287.
An important reminder: You will only be able to get an appointment if you're part of qualifying groups, such as certain essential workers and people over the age of 65.
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
What the Data Shows
D.C., Maryland and Virginia each added more cases Thursday than the day before, but new cases are still trending downward in the region.
The seven-day average is up in D.C. and Virginia but still decreasing in Maryland. D.C. has an average of 167, Maryland is down to 1,261 and Virginia is up 85 cases to a seven-day average of 2,462.
Cases increased by 185 in D.C. and an additional 8 deaths were reported.
Maryland had a further 1,199 cases and 21 deaths. Virginia recorded 2,591 new cases and 27 additional lives lost.
Vaccination Portals by County
As vaccinations in our region ramp up, here's a look at local portals residents can use to sign up for vaccination appointments or sign up to receive alerts.
- Washington, D.C. signups– vaccinate.dc.gov
- Maryland signups – www.marylandvax.org/ and covidvax.maryland.gov
- Virginia information – www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/
- Montgomery County – www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/
- Prince George's County – www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/3730/COVID-19-Vaccination
- Howard County – www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Health/MM-Alerts-and-Recalls/COVID-19-Vaccine
- Anne Arundel County – aahealth.org/covid-19-vaccine-faq/
- Fairfax County – www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/novel-coronavirus/vaccine
- City of Alexandria – www.alexandriava.gov/health/info/default.aspx?id=119270
- Loudoun County – www.loudoun.gov/covid19vaccine
- Prince William County – coronavirus.pwcgov.org/vaccine-information/ & VDH
To get a better idea of when you'll be eligible to receive a vaccine, use our tool below.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- The first case of a COVID-19 variant from South Africa has been diagnosed in Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday.
- Health officials confirmed Maryland's first case of COVID-19 caused by the new variant first identified in South Africa, then another two cases in Montgomery County residents.
- Many D.C. restaurant workers who already were coping with the safety hazards and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic also are facing increased sexual harassment, a new report from a labor organization says.
- Face masks are now required in all National Park Service buildings, and on land maintained by the Park Service when physical distancing is not possible, federal officials announced Tuesday.
- Bars and restaurants in Maryland will be able to remain open past 10 p.m. starting Monday, Feb. 1, the governor announced. Restaurants will still be capped at half-capacity indoors.
- Nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities in the D.C. region are still working to convince some of their employees that it's safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Hogan outlined plans to put the infrastructure in place to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations when a higher volume of doses becomes available. Six mass vaccination sites are planned, including one at Six Flags America.
- Georgetown University says it will discipline medical students who received COVID-19 vaccines though they were not eligible to receive them.
- Just as millions of Americans are rolling up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccine, the News4 I-Team has learned the outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services made it much harder to get compensated for the most common vaccine injury.
- D.C.’s child care workers are asking officials not to push back their COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says school districts should resume in-person learning by March 1 or face legal action, which the state teacher's union says is a threat to educators.
- Maryland reported its first two confirmed cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19.
- A professor is using the trust Black Americans have in barbers to make them more comfortable with taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Montgomery County plans to allow indoor dining again starting Feb. 14.
- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam directed all schools to offer in-person classes by March 15, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other leaders say it's possible to reopen safely.
- The Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to bring all students back in-person for hybrid learning by March 16.
- D.C. has lifted its ban on indoor dining, but libraries and recreation centers are still closed.
- Virginia instituted a curfew and a stricter mask mandate.
- Maryland tightened restrictions on businesses, bars and restaurants.
- All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed because of rising COVID-19 cases.
- 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 remain partially shut down due to the pandemic.
- Prince George's County tightened restrictions and required masks to be worn outdoors.
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.