Winter weather forced some COVID-19 testing and vaccine clinics to close Thursday, a disappointment to many who had appointments even as cases and hospitalizations decline.
Montgomery County has canceled its county-run testing and vaccine clinics for the day.
D.C.’s testing sites are closed, as well as the Fairfax County Health Department vaccine clinics.
People who have appointments, should receive a notification email with more details.
The winter weather isn’t just impacting local clinics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the winter storm may cause widespread delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments. A winter storm has impacted millions of people across the U.S., causing widespread power outages in Texas before rushing into the Mid-Atlantic.
DC Expands Vaccine Eligibility
D.C. is moving to its next tier of vaccine eligibility, expanding access to grocery store workers, health and social services, manufacturing and food packaging employees.
You can register for your vaccine appointment through https://vaccinate.dc.gov or call 855-363-0333.
Approximately 2,450 appointments will open to D.C. residents 65 years or older who live in priority zip codes and to individuals who are essential workers starting Thursday at 6 p.m. The priority zip codes are focused on Wards 5,7 and 8 and include 20422, 20011, 20017, 20018, 20002, 20001, 20019, 20020, 20032 and 20593.
On Friday at 6 p.m. an additional 2,450 appointments will be made available for all D.C. residents who are 65 or older and essential workers.
Starting the week of March 1, D.C. will move into Phase 1C Tier 1 of vaccine distribution which will allow D.C. residents who are 16 to 64 years old with pre-existing medical conditions to begin scheduling their vaccination appointments.
The list of medical conditions includes asthma, obesity, diabetes, cancer, HIV, sickle cell disease, pregnancy, heart disease, intellectual and developmental disabilities and more.
D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt provided details about COVID-19 infections in the District at a press conference Thursday saying that while the daily case rate is falling, it’s still in the red zone, indicating high community spread.
D.C.’s test positivity metric – currently at 5% – is promising, however.
“We’ve managed to keep the the number below 10%, which I think is remarkable in the face of us having a high daily case rate,” Nesbitt said.
She stressed the importance of not getting complacent due to encouraging metrics. “Because some people can be positive with COVID-19 and not have symptoms, it’s critically important for people to continue to be tested,” she said.
Overall, 2.5% of D.C. residents have been fully vaccinated and 36.8% of individuals over age 65 have been vaccinated, the data shows.
The highest percent of vaccinated individuals are in Ward 3, and the lowest in Ward 8. Ethnicity data is still missing for over half of the vaccinated residents recorded in D.C.’s database.
New Coronavirus Variant Found in Maryland
Another coronavirus variant has been discovered in Maryland.
Gov. Larry Hogan says a strain of the virus that originated in Brazil was found in a 65-year-old man who recently died.
Like many of the other variants, the Brazilian strain is believed to be more transmissible than the original. We don't know if it causes more serious illness.
Prince George's Schools Reopening Plan
Prince George’s County unveiled a school reopening plan Wednesday that would give families the option to return to classrooms starting in April.
The plan includes a two-day hybrid learning model.
Phase one is set to begin April 8 for all special education students, pre-K through sixth graders and 12th graders.
Phase two begins on April 15 for the remaining seventh through 11th grade students.
Virginians Frustrated Over Preregistration System Lag
If you’re looking to confirm that your vaccine preregistration transferred over when Virginia launched a new statewide site, know that there's still a lag.
Not all preregistrations have been entered into the new system.
In the coming days, residents should be able to confirm their preregistration transferred using the new portal. Anyone who lives or works in the state can sign up to get contacted when they're eligible to schedule an appointment. If you don’t have internet access, call 877-VAX-INVA.
What the Data Shows
Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decrease in our region as vaccinations surge upwards.
D.C. reported 121 new cases and seven additional deaths. The seven-day average decreased by nine cases to 110.
Maryland cases increased by 986 and deaths increased by 30. The state’s seven-day average decreased to 872.
Virginia reported 1,526 additional infections and 16 lives lost Thursday. Virginia’s seven-day average decreased to 1,632.
D.C.’s test positivity rate – the percentage of tests that return positive for the coronavirus – is at 5%, indicating moderate community spread, according to the District’s reopening metrics. A positivity rate of 3% is one of several benchmarks the city needs to achieve before it can begin significantly loosening COVID-19 restrictions.
Maryland’s positivity rate is at 4.13% as of Thursday. Virginia’s positivity rate has also decreased in recent days. As of Thursday, an average of 8.6% of those tested for COVID-19 are infected. Both Maryland and Virginia are reporting the lowest rate it’s been since early November.
As of Wednesday, 2.5% of D.C. residents, 4.2% of Marylanders and 4.3% of Virginians have been fully vaccinated.
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
- NBC News is making finding information on when, how and where to obtain your coronavirus vaccination easier with its Plan Your Vaccine website.
- Medical schools across the country report a spike in applications, especially from students of color. At Georgetown University’s medical school, applications are up 24% overall and 40% from underrepresented minorities. The University of Maryland along with Howard University have also seen a rising number of applicants.
- The Maryland General Assembly has passed a pandemic relief measure that will deliver more than $1 billion in tax relief and economic stimulus for low-income families and small businesses.
- The first case of a COVID-19 variant from South Africa was 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, a 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.
- 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.
- Thousands of students returned to classrooms as schools reopened Tuesday in Frederick County, Maryland, Fairfax County and Loudoun County.
- 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.