Limited indoor dining was allowed in Montgomery County starting at 7 a.m. Sunday, Valentine’s Day.
The Montgomery County Council voted earlier this week to allow restaurants to operate at up to 25% capacity, with a 90-minute time limit.
Alcohol sales will be suspended at 10 p.m., masks are required and tables are limited to six guests, under an executive order approved with a 7-2 vote.
Montgomery County was the only jurisdiction in Maryland that still did not allow indoor dining.
The rate of new COVID-19 cases has fallen but officials say there’s still a very high risk of transmission.
Average US Virus Cases Dip Below 100K for First Time in Months
Nationally, average daily new coronavirus cases in the United States dipped below 100,000 in recent days for the first time in months, but experts cautioned Sunday that infections remain high and precautions to slow the pandemic must remain in place.
The seven-day rolling average of new infections was well above 200,000 for much of December and went to roughly 250,000 in January, according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University, as the pandemic came roaring back after it had been tamed in some places over the summer.
That average dropped below 100,000 on Friday for the first time since Nov. 4. It stayed below 100,000 on Saturday.
On Saturday, the seven-day rolling average for deaths was around 2,500. That number peaked at more than 3,300 earlier in the winter, according to Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that new variants, including one first detected in the United Kingdom that appears to be more transmissible and has already been recorded in more than 30 states, will likely lead to more cases and more deaths.
“All of it is really wraps up into we can’t let our guard down,” she said. “We have to continue wearing masks. We have to continue with our current mitigation measures. And we have to continue getting vaccinated as soon as that vaccine is available to us.”
The U.S. has recorded more than 27.5 million virus cases and more than 484,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins data.
What to Know About the CDC's New School Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines that could shape the effort to get kids back in the classroom.
The agency put out a color-coded system for reopening.
Blue and yellow designations are for communities that have low to moderate transmission of COVID-19. For those in a blue or yellow zone, the CDC recommends full in-person learning with as much social distancing as possible.
In orange zones — areas with substantial transmission —hybrid learning, and reduced attendance is a safer option.
Red marks the highest transmission zones. In red districts without regular testing, the CDC says fully virtual learning could come into play but only for middle and high schoolers.
Prince George's County is expected to announce its reopening dates within days.
Montgomery County will reopen schools to a small group of students on March 1, with the vast majority heading back to class March 15.
In Virginia, Loudoun County starts its hybrid learning model Tuesday.
Prince William starts phasing back in on Feb. 23.
Arlington begins phasing new grade levels back every week, starting March 2.
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.
Fairfax County heads back on March 16 under a hybrid model.
D.C. is also opening more of its schools to hybrid learning, and Mayor Muriel Bowser said she wants charter schools to follow suit.
What the Data Shows
D.C. announced on Sunday another 122 COVID-19 cases but no new deaths. Six fewer COVID patients were hospitalized.
Maryland announced 847 new cases and 18 more deaths. Twenty-six fewer COVID patients were in hospitals.
Virginia announced 1,793 more cases and 14 more deaths. Sixty-seven fewer patients with the virus were in hospitals.
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
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- The first case of a COVID-19 variant from South Africa has been diagnosed in Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam said.
- 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, areport 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 to bring all students back in-person for hybrid learning by March 16.
- D.C. 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.
- 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.