Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Feb. 23

Here's what to know about the coronavirus data, resources and reopenings for D.C., Maryland and Virginia

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As pre-K and kindergarten students get the chance to go to classrooms in Fairfax County, it seems the D.C. area is at an inflection point in the pandemic.

New infections are falling, but still every day more people are left mourning. D.C. is closing in on 1,000 lives lost to COVID-19. Virginia has reported a significant number of deaths over the past few days, 484 since Saturday.

Flor de Luz Cervantes, a nutrition services employee at Woodbridge Middle School in Prince William County, was one Virginian who died from coronavirus, the school announced Monday. She had been on medical leave since Jan. 27, the school said.

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.

“This is a difficult time for our school community, but Woodbridge students and staff will support each other as we deal with this loss,” Principal Angela Owens wrote to families.

Owens encouraged parents to talk to students about grief and reach out for counseling services that are available.

President Joe Biden led the nation Monday night in a memorial for 500,000 lives lost in the United States from the virus, and bells tolled at the National Cathedral to mark the devastating loss.

But as more and more people get vaccinated against the virus, there will be more good news to report. Already, contact tracing data from Maryland shows the number of health care workers getting coronavirus has steeply declined since vaccinations started, Gov. Larry Hogan's communications director Mike Ricci said.

Dr. Fauci Shares His Personal COVID-19 Precautions

News 4's Doreen Gentzler talks with Dr. Anthony Fauci about what's changed since being fully vaccinated.

The nation’s top infectious disease doctor is still going out for walks and supporting restaurants near his Northwest D.C. home, but even getting fully vaccinated hasn’t spurred the 80-year-old to relax precautions.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC Washington that takeout and walks in pretty, outdoor spaces occupy his free time.

“We’re still keeping what happens in my home very restricted to my wife and I,” Fauci said.

Maryland Plans Statewide Vaccine Preregistration System

Maryland has announced plans for a new statewide system to get people preregistered for the coronavirus vaccine, set to launch in March.

It would allow qualified residents to set up appointments at the state’s mass vaccination clinics.

The announcement comes a week after Virginia launched its centralized vaccine registration website, replacing a system in which each health district had its own preregistration site.

After preregistering, anyone who lives or works in Maryland state will be contacted when they're eligible to schedule an appointment.

News4's Shomari Stone talked to players and parents about how it feels to be back on the field.

Montgomery County Reaches Out to Older People in Communities of Color

Montgomery County is ramping up efforts to get shots to neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic.

Now, county leaders are trying to reach seniors 75 and older through special vaccination clinics, particularly in communities of color.

People of color are getting the lowest number of appointments and shots despite having the highest rates of infection and death, county leaders and health officials said in a Monday meeting.

What the Data Shows

New data shows more improvements have been made in regard to quelling the spread of COVID-19 in our region.

Out of D.C.’s 10 COVID-19 reopening metrics, four are in the green zone, indicating minimal community spread; four are in the yellow zone for moderate spread and two are in the red zone, indicating substantial spread.

The daily case rate, currently at 15.3 weekly cases per 100,000 people, and the percent of COVID-19 patients (10.1%) are both right at the cusp of moving out of the red zone. To improve, the case rate only needs to drop below 15 and the percent of coronavirus patients needs to be lower than 10%.

Three lives were lost to COVID-19 in D.C. on Tuesday, including a 33-year-old woman. This brings the District’s total count to 998 lives lost since the start of the pandemic.

D.C. recorded an additional 89 cases Tuesday. The District’s seven-day average of cases dropped to 102.

Maryland’s positivity rate is down to 3.9%, the state’s lowest level since the end of October. Vaccines in the state are ramping up too. More than 1 million doses have been administered and half a million people - nearly 6% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

On Sunday, hospitalizations in Maryland decreased to the triple digits after having been in the thousands for months.

Maryland reported 662 new cases and 30 lives lost to COVID-19 on Tuesday. The state’s seven-day average increased by 21 cases to 772.

In Virginia, the pace of vaccinations is one area to be excited about. Already about two million vaccine doses have been received and 6% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Other metrics, however, show persistent problems. The average positivity rate, for example, has decreased significantly from a high of 17.4% in early January, but it’s still a bit high at 8.3% today. The ideal range is somewhere lower than 5%.

Additionally, Virginia has reported a significant number of deaths over the past four days. Tuesday, 145 deaths were recorded by the Virginia Department of Health. On Monday it was 125, Sunday was 122 and Saturday was 91.

Virginia recorded 1,198 new confirmed COVID-19 infections Tuesday. The state’s seven-day average rose by 26 cases to 1,366. Hospitalizations rose to 1,323.

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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