Monday is a big day in the D.C. area as Virginia eases some coronavirus-related restrictions, students start in-person classes in several Maryland districts and the University of Maryland restarts in-person classes after a COVID-19 outbreak.
Virginia will lift a curfew and loosen limits on outdoor gatherings. The modified stay-at-home order that directed residents to stay home between midnight and 5 a.m. will be lifted, Gov. Ralph Northam said earlier in the week. Residents should still limit going out, the governor said.
The limit on outdoor social gatherings will increase from 10 to 25 people. Outdoor entertainment venues can operate at 30% capacity, capped at 1,000 people. And alcohol sales will be allowed until midnight, extended from 10 p.m.
Students Start In-Person Learning in Several Maryland Districts
Some students in several Maryland school districts will return to school in person starting Monday.
Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford County and Howard County, among others, will bring some students back into school.
The schools will start with some grade levels, gradually bringing in more children over the following weeks. The number of days per week of in-person instruction varies in each district, with the most popular option being twice a week. Students can still choose to attend school virtually only.
Early studies have shown little to no evidence that schools open for in-person instruction have led to a significant spread of the coronavirus in local communities.
UMD to Restart In-Person Classes in College Park
The University of Maryland’s flagship campus will resume in-person instruction on Monday after having suspended live classes for a week due to COVID-19 outbreaks, according to school leaders.
Improving coronavirus figures on the College Park campus have contributed to the resumption. An order from last week requiring residents in student housing to “sequester in place" also has been lifted, The Baltimore Sun reported Saturday.
University President Darryll Pines and the chief medical officer for the university’s health center credited the campus community for working to curb the spread. The number of cases has slowed and the testing positive rate is low, according to their announcement. The number of new cases reported daily to the school remains high compared to earlier in February.
COVID Vaccine for Elementary Schoolers Likely Coming in Early 2022: Fauci
Elementary school-aged children will likely be able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press.”
Fauci, the government's leading epidemiologist, said that there are studies already underway studying vaccine safety for younger children.
"If you project realistically, when we will be able to get enough data to be able to say that elementary school children will be able to be vaccinated, I would think that would be, at the earliest, the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," Fauci said.
CDC Launches VaccineFinder.Org
Even if you’re eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, it can be hard to find one. Now, there's a new government tool designed to help.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a website called vaccinefinder.org.
The site works as an interactive map. You put in your zip code and how far you want to search in your local area.
The search returns a list of all the places that offer vaccine shots near you and notes whether they have vaccine in stock.
Clicking on a pharmacy takes you to the providor’s page where you can book an appointment — you can't actually make the appointment through Vaccine Finder.
The tool can help people find shots, but you'll still need to do the leg work of calling and refreshing websites for new slots.
Right now, Vaccine Finder is still very limited in most states, including D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
That means, when you search, you are only seeing certain pharmacies that are getting their doses directly from the federal government.
In the coming weeks, more providers like clinics, hospitals and public health sites will be listed.
When the vaccine is more widely available, the CDC says it will be even more helpful.
The government is partnering with companies like Google and Waze so your phone can locate vaccination clinics near you.
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.
What the Data Shows
D.C. announced on Sunday another 120 cases of COVID-19 and the deaths of seven more people, including two men in their 50s. Eight fewer people were hospitalized with the virus.
Maryland announced 827 more cases and the deaths of 13 more people. Twenty-four fewer people were hospitalized with the virus.
Virginia announced 1,268 more cases and the deaths of 145 more people. Forty fewer people were hospitalized.
Overall, cases of the virus and hospitalizations have fallen in the D.C. area since about mid-January.
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
- In the next few weeks, many more Virginians will be heading to pharmacies for their shots. But there's still one problem — not all the pharmacies can coordinate with the state's vaccine waiting list.
- D.C. expanded vaccine eligibility, meaning residents over 65, working essential jobs or with certain chronic conditions can try to book appointments. But many residents were stopped from registering by technical problems.
- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser lost her only sister and oldest sibling to COVID-19.
- More than a thousand Washington, D.C., residents have now died of COVID-19.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Virginia is set to drop its curfew and relax other COVID-19 restrictions, including on outdoor gatherings, starting March 1.
- 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.