As concerns about the spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants from around the globe rise, the U.S. will start requiring inbound international travelers to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test before flying.
The effort could take effect as soon as Jan. 26, according to a person familiar with the plans.
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On Tuesday, Maryland reported its first two cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19, Gov. Hogan announced at a press conference. The two individuals are a married couple who reside in Anne Arundel County. One of the patients had recently returned from traveling abroad, he said.
Both are under the age of 65, and neither has been hospitalized. The couple also has two children and the entire family is quarantining together, Gov. Hogan said.
Early analysis suggested the U.K. strain may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant that was circulating in the country, but it has not shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death, according to the governor’s office.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's proposed economic relief package will face the state legislature for approval on Wednesday.
If passed, Hogan said the direct payments of $750 for qualifying families and $450 for qualifying individuals will be sent out "immediately," he announced at a press conference Monday.
About 400,000 Marylanders in need are eligible and no applications would be necessary to receive the funding.
The economic relief act would provide more than $1 billion in immediate and targeted financial relief for families, unemployed Marylanders and small businesses that are suffering financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, Montgomery County's Board of Education voted to delay students' return to in-person classes from Feb. 1 to March 15.
The county will monitor health metrics to ensure that guidelines are met before students can safely return to the classroom, officials announced.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser late Monday extended the city’s indoor dining restrictions until Jan. 22, days after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Bowser’s new order extends restrictions that were put into place before Christmas. They were introduced to help limit community spread of the coronavirus.
Nearly 9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the country as of Monday morning, according to the CDC. Though the pace appears to be improving, administered vaccine doses still represent only about a third of total doses distributed around the U.S. so far.
The Trump administration on Tuesday issued new guidelines that expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone age 65 and older as well as to those with comorbid conditions, like diabetes, in order to speed up the pace of inoculations.
In the District, seniors are now eligible to receive their shots. To be eligible, you need to live in D.C., and be at least 65 years old.
All of the available vaccination appointments (6,700) for this week have already been filled, according to D.C.'s sign up portal.
Some seniors have reported they are not receiving alerts about when vaccination appointments become available via email and text message, which you can sign up for at the link.
“We do hear that some people had challenges receiving the alerts when they signed up for the alert, so we have worked to remedy that issue,” D.C.’s Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said in a press conference Wednesday.
Others who have completed registration or filled out a questionnaire may be experiencing confusion. Filling out the questionnaire is not the same as receiving an appointment, Nesbitt clarified.
“If you never received a date, time, location, then you are not registered for an appointment and the health department or any entity of the government will not be automatically sending you an appointment when new appointments are available,” Nesbitt said.
Nesbitt said she and the chief technology officer in charge of the interface are working to resolve all glitches and issues causing confusion within the sign up system.
Hogan said the speed of vaccinations in Maryland, a cause of serious concern and criticism two weeks ago, has picked up and now exceeds the pace at which the federal government is shipping doses to the state.
The governor said Maryland doesn’t yet have nearly enough vaccine doses to cover all seniors.
Northern Virginia continues to vaccinate individuals within Group 1b – including people over the age of 75, teachers, police and firefighters, postal workers, transit workers, and grocery employees.
In Phase 1C, another 2.5 million Virginians who are considered frontline essential workers would be eligible for vaccinations. Workers in those categories include housing construction, food service and transportation and logistics workers.
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/
- 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
To get a better idea of when you'll be eligible to receive a vaccine, use our tool below.
Three members of the House have announced that they have tested positive for COVID-19, including Rep. Brad Schneider, of Illinois, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, of Washington – all Democrats.
"Several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask." Schneider said, pointing to a video posted online by Punchbowl News that shows several House Republicans refusing to wear masks while sheltering in an undisclosed location.
A press release from Coleman's office on Monday also noted that “a number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks.”
What the Data Shows
D.C. announced 177 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional six deaths.
In Maryland, 2,516 new cases and 37 deaths were reported. In Virginia, 3,265 new COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths were counted.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases declined for the first time in days. D.C.'s average dropped from 322 to 303 on Wednesday. In Maryland, the seven-day average dropped from 3,228 to 3,138. In Virginia, average cases dropped from 3,792 to 3,731.
As of Wednesday, 2,809 patients confirmed positive for COVID-19 are hospitalized in Virginia, a significant drop from Tuesday. In Maryland, 1,929 patients are hospitalized. D.C. reported 293 hospitalizations.
Test positivity rates have been declining for the past few days as well, indicating the recent surge caused by holiday gatherings may have passed it's peak.
Virginia's positivity rate is down to 15.9% on Wednesday following a high of 17.2% on Jan. 3. D.C.'s positivity rate is at 6.5% and Maryland's rate is at 8.53%.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- Maryland reported its first two confirmed cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19.
- D.C. residents age 65 and older, teachers and several categories of essential workers will be able to make appointments this month to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, officials say.
- More than 1,400 long-term care facilities in Virginia are expected to receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks.
- Two D.C. friends got a lucky break while in Giant Food in Washington, D.C.,: When someone didn't show up for their vaccination appointment, the pharmacist asked him and his friend if they wanted to get the Moderna shot.
- Virginia reported another record day for new coronavirus infections, and that surge is putting even more pressure on hospitals in the commonwealth already pushed to the brink.
- Among the industries hit hardest by the pandemic has been performance venues like theaters and nightclubs, but help is on the way after President Donald Trump signed the new relief bill.
- New figures from the Virginia Department of Corrections show that two inmates and one staff member who tested positive for the coronavirus have died in recent days.
- The high level of coronavirus cases is putting stress on Northern Virginia hospitals — and the health care professionals who work there.
- The stress of the pandemic is a grind. A data analysis from the American Dental Association shows a surge in cases of teeth grinding, clenching and cracking during the COVID-19 crisis. The increases are striking and potentially costly and painful for sufferers.
- A professor is using the trust Black Americans have in barbers to make them more comfortable with taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
- A rapid antigen test might seem like a great idea when you're in a hurry and don't have time to wait a few days for results, but those tests are really designed for people with COVID-19 symptoms and in asymptomatic patients can deliver false positive results.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced measures to boost the number of available health care workers and plan for more hospital beds.
- COVID-19 numbers continue to paint a dire picture for Black Americans, and there is an ongoing effort in the Black community to increase testing.
- A judge upheld Montgomery County, Maryland's ban on indoor dining.
- D.C. has suspended indoor dining until 5 a.m. on Jan. 15, Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a press release.
- 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.
- Hours before some Fairfax County students were set to return to in-person learning, the school district said that they needed to delay the plan.
- 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.