Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Feb. 2

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

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Pfizer, like other COVID-19 vaccine makers, has been struggling to meet the global demand for shots. Now the company is sharing some good news – Pfizer plans to deliver 200 million doses of its vaccine to the U.S. by May, two months earlier than its initial projection.

The company also said it can potentially deliver two billion doses globally by the end of 2021.

South Africa Strain in Maryland

Two Montgomery County residents were found to have a strain of COVID-19 found in South Africa, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday. The patients had recently traveled abroad. Their close contacts are in isolation and contact tracing is underway, the governor said.

The two new cases brings the state to a total of three recorded cases of COVID-19 caused by the South African strain. The state's first case was identified in an adult living in the Baltimore metro region on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Back to School Plans in D.C., Fairfax and Loudoun

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) open for in-person instruction Tuesday with COVID-19 safety precautions in place, but worries of action from the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) put those plans on shaky ground.

D.C. filed a motion Monday for a temporary restraining order against the WTU to prevent it “from engaging in a strike or work stoppage that would halt the District’s reopening of some schools for in-person learning,” according to court documents.

“Without this injunction, the District—and more importantly, its most vulnerable youth— will suffer profound and irreparable harm,” D.C. said in the court document. 

WTU President Elizabeth Davis responded Tuesday with a statement that read, "teachers want to go back to in-school learning when they are assured that the buildings are safe."

"If DCPS continues to refuse to work with us to ensure the safety of our school facilities, we must continue to discuss ways to protect our health and that of our students," Davis said.

The Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) board will meet to discuss the county's "Return to School" plan at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The new plan would bring pre-K children and kids in special education back to the classroom first on Feb. 23. By March 16, everyone would be back to the classroom.

More than 1,600 FCPS teachers have been approved for medical requests to work virtually and only 69% of the classroom monitor positions have been filled so far. There has been no clarification as of yet whether teachers will be required to return to the classroom.

The Loudoun School board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Board may vote on a plan for the resumption of hybrid classes.

MPD Issuses Warning Against COVID-19 Scams

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has issued a warning about COVID-19 scams in D.C.

According to the notice, D.C. police has recently been notified of individuals in the District claiming to sell “extra” COVID-19 vaccinations.

"If you receive any messages or calls about the private sale of a vaccine, report this as fraudulent activity," the notice said. "Members of the public should only get a vaccine through scheduled appointments at hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and doctors’ offices."

In order to deter scammers, D.C. police are recommending residents to avoid individuals offering to sell treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, solicitation of donations for COVID-19 victims, phishing telephone calls, texts or emails asking for personal or financial information and unofficial COVID-19 apps or downloads.

Vaccinations in DC

Child care workers, teachers and staff at private schools, and members of the homeless population are now eligible and can begin making their appointments, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Monday.

Although the District has now administered more than 62,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, thousands of people who are eligible are unable to receive them due to high demand.

The District released preliminary data Monday showing the gaps in who has been getting the shots, but the data is incomplete.

More than 17,500 whites have received the vaccine compared to fewer than 10,000 African Americans. More than 25,000 people also listed their race as other, D.C. Health reports. 

Reports also show that only 1,600 people classified as Hispanics have received the vaccine, compared to more than 25,000 people who identified as non-Hispanic. Almost 36,000 people listed their ethnicity as unknown. 

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.

Maryland Vaccine

As of today, 553,733 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Maryland, and 79.1% of all first doses have been given.

The average daily rate of shots administered is 22,439 — a 64% increase compared to two weeks ago, state officials say.

Beginning this Friday, Maryland will open several mass vaccination sites to speed up inoculations. The first sites are set to open at the Baltimore Convention Center and Six Flags America in Prince George’s County. Announcements will be made as appointments become available, officials say.

Masks Required on All Public Transport

As of Monday night, masks are required on all public transportation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week.

The mandate will apply to all public commercial transportation, including planes, trains, boats, buses, air terminals, train stations, subways and subway stations, seaports, ferries, taxis, ride-hail vehicles and bus depots.

Now that masks are required, these are some of the most effective options, according to a study by Duke University.

What the Data Shows

The D.C. region continues forward on its streak of declining cases and hospitalization.

On Tuesday, seven-day averages fell from 215 to 205 in D.C., from 1,785 to 1,703 in Maryland and from 2,957 to 2,737 in Virginia. Those are the most significant declines recorded in the past week.

These are the lowest case averages recorded in a month in Virginia and in several months in D.C. and Maryland.

D.C.'s positivity rate is currently at 5.4%. Maryland reported a positivity rate of 5.79% Tuesday. Virginia has a positivity rate of 11.5%, the lowest it's been since mid-December.

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.

To get a better idea of when you'll be eligible to receive a vaccine, use our tool below.

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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