Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Jan. 13

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

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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.

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 has proposed an economic relief package including direct payments of as much as $750 for low-income to moderate-income families and individuals, he announced at a press conference Monday.

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.

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

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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