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
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.
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.
- 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 number of coronavirus vaccine shots that have been given in Virginia is ticking up, but the state is still falling short of its desired inoculation rate because too few vaccines are coming in, Gov. Ralph Northam said.
- More people are eligible for vaccinations in D.C., including grocery store workers.
- 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.