Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Feb. 15

Here's what to know about the coronavirus data, resources and reopenings across the D.C. area

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Virginia is shifting the way it has residents pre-register for their COVID-19 vaccines: The state is launching a singular portal everyone can use to pre-register on Tuesday.

“The statewide vaccine pre-registration system will provide a unified and comprehensive process for people in Virginia to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine,” the Virginia Department of Health said in a press release.

Local health departments were directed to close their pre-registration sites at 5 p.m. Friday in advance of the transition. Residents will be able to start pre-registering for vaccines again Tuesday when the new site launches.

If you already pre-registered, you don’t need to take action, VDH says. Waitlists will be automatically imported to the new systems.

Remote Students Are More Stressed Than Their Peers in the Classroom, Study Finds

Students who learned in a virtual setting said they were more stressed about school than students who were in the classroom full time or part time, a new study from NBC News and Challenge Success found.

The survey was conducted last fall and included more than 10,000 students in 12 U.S. high schools.

Eighty-four percent of remote students reported exhaustion, headaches, insomnia or other stress-related ailments, compared to 82 percent of students who were in the classroom on some days and 78 percent of students who were in the classroom full time.

Vaccines for teachers are recommended, but not required.

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 has 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.

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.

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.

Virginia Democrats Make Push on Return to In-Person School

Virginia House Democrats unveiled legislation Monday morning that would require public school districts to offer at least some access to in-person learning by the 2021-2022 school year.

The bill, which has the support of House leadership and Gov. Ralph Northam, says districts must provide either full in-person instruction or a combination of in-person and virtual instruction to each student. It would also require that all teachers and school staff have the chance to get a vaccine before the start of the next school year and would offer a fully virtual option for families who want one.

Montgomery County's Loosened Restrictions Began Sunday

Limited indoor dining resumed in Montgomery County early Sunday, Valentine’s Day. 

Restaurants may now 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 only six people are allowed at each table.

Montgomery County had been 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.

What the Data Shows

D.C. announced Monday another 83 COVID-19 cases and one life lost. Hospitalizations in D.C. are down to 196. 

Maryland announced 722 new cases and 26 more deaths. Hospitalizations in the state dropped by more than 50 to 1,113 – the lowest reported count since November.

Virginia announced 1,056 more cases and four additional deaths. A total of 1,641 confirmed COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Virginia, 25 fewer than on Sunday.

In our region, seven-day averages fell to 124 in D.C., 1,022 in Maryland and 2,077 in Virginia.

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.

Local Coronavirus Headlines

Reopening Tracker

Although COVID-19 treatments have improved and a vaccine is on the way, even a mild case of the virus can cause long-term complications — including the possibility of erectile dysfunction. Infectious disease expert Dr. Dena Grayson joined LX News with a warning not to let our guards down as we wait for a vaccine.

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.
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