The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued sweeping school reopening guidelines Friday using a color-coded system that provides recommendations corresponding to the spread of COVID-19 in communities.
The move comes after President Joe Biden pledged in December to resume in-person learning at a majority of the nation's schools in his first 100 days in office, making it one of his top priorities.
Mass vaccinations sites at Six Flags in Prince George's County and the Baltimore Convention Center are on track to vaccinate more than 15,000 people in their first week of operation, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
A mass vaccination site is scheduled to open Feb. 25 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, and appointments will become available next week.
Other Maryland sites are still being finalized, with plans to open in March, depending on when higher allocations of vaccines are available, the governor said.
Moving forward, Maryland will provide four-week projections about vaccine allocations to local leaders to help them better organize appointments, Gov. Hogan said Thursday.
Up until now, state health officials have had to wait until Thursday, Friday or even Saturday night to receive updates about the next week's allocation, the governor said.
Biden Says U.S. Is Securing 600 Million Vaccine Doses by July
Biden announced on Thursday that the U.S. had secured contractual commitments from Moderna and Pfizer to deliver the 600 million doses of vaccine by the end of July — more than a month ahead of schedule.
“We’re now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July," he announced.
Biden made the announcement at the National Institutes of Health complex in Bethesda as he visited some of the nation's leading scientists. Biden toured the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory that created the COVID-19 vaccine now manufactured by Moderna.
People Who Don't Meet Montgomery County Vaccine Standards Cause Long Lines at Clinics
Many people who had made appointments through a forwarded link or did not have appointments showed up at vaccination sites in Montgomery County Thursday, causing extremely long lines, health officials say.
The health department said those links are only for the direct recipient and vaccines are administered by appointment only.
The line of people waiting in the cold stretched for blocks at Richard Montgomery High School Thursday, and many people with scheduled appointments had to be turned away.
The county was only serving people 75 and older. Teachers who are eligible by state standards for vaccination were told they don’t qualify by county standards and were sent home.
“We apologize for the inconvenience it caused for those who were scheduled who had to wait in line longer than they anticipated,” the Montgomery County Health Department said in a statement.
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 and 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.
CDC Investigates Death Potentially Linked to COVID-19 Vaccine, Releases New Mask Guidance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the death of a Nebraska man who died on Jan. 17 between one and two weeks after receiving his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Nebraska health officials.
The man was a long-term care facility resident in his late forties with several pre-existing conditions, officials said. The COVID-19 vaccine was listed among several causes of death.
The CDC and Food and Drug Administration have received 1,170 reports of deaths among individuals in the U.S. who received a coronavirus vaccine — 0.003% of vaccinated people — between Dec. 14 and Feb. 7.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on mask wearing.
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.”
CVS vaccination appointments in Virginia were accidentally released to the public early and booked up within hours, thwarting plans set by CVS and the commonwealth to prioritize individuals on health department waiting lists.
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.
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
New cases are trending down everywhere in the region Friday.
Compared to one month ago, seven-day averages in the region have decreased by about 50 percent.
The seven-day average in D.C. fell by 19 cases to 148. In Maryland, the average decreased by 62 cases to 1,199 on Friday. Virginia's seven-day average is down to 2,271 – a decrease of 191 cases.
Cases increased by 137 in D.C. and an additional three deaths were reported.
Maryland had a further 1,112 cases and 36 deaths. Virginia recorded 2,305 new cases and 10 additional lives lost.
Hospitalizations are falling, too. In Virginia, 1,864 residents with confirmed COVID-19 infections are being treated in the hospital. Exactly one month ago, that count was up to a peak of 3,185.
In D.C. hospitalizations decreased to 207. Maryland reported 1,225 hospitalizations on Friday.
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.