Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Jan. 2

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

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After a long and difficult 2020, the new year has dawned — but the return to regular daily life won't arrive overnight. The United States closed out 2020 with the deadliest and most infectious month since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, while surpassing 20 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Doctors worry holiday gatherings will bring another spike in cases, as patients in at least three states are battling a new, more contagious strain of the virus.

While vaccinations give us reason to hope, epidemiologists and public health experts say that the pandemic will continue to be a major factor in 2021.

TODAY Health spoke to seven experts to get their thoughts on what this year will look like. Read more here.

In Virginia, state Sen. Ben Chafin died after contracting the coronavirus, Senate Republicans said Friday.

“I knew Ben as a lawmaker, an attorney, a banker, and a farmer raising beef cattle in Moccasin Valley, working the land just as generations of his family had done before him,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “He loved the outdoors, and he loved serving people even more.”

Maryland's state health department is working with regional and federal partners to test patient samples for infection with the new variant of the coronavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are collaborating with the state’s public health lab, as well as state labs in California and Delaware, to test for the apparently more contagious variant, the Baltimore Sun reported.

A Maryland health department spokesman says the variant has not been detected in Maryland.

Some local restaurant owners used New Year’s Eve to plead for more federal assistance, saying failure to do so could have economic consequences that last well beyond the coronavirus pandemic. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

New Year’s Eve has traditionally one of the busiest days for the hospitality industry, but this year, bags of takeout food replaced festive restaurant meals.

Some local restaurant owners used the day to plead for more federal assistance, saying failure to do so could have economic consequences that last well beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

At a table set up outside Fight Club on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, packaged take-home drinks were sold to benefit struggling hospitality employees.

Arlington restaurant owner Nick Freshman is among those advocating for passage of federal relief tailored to locally owned restaurants, not big national chains.

“The next few months will be the hardest of the pandemic,” he said. “We wanted to come out and speak for those in our industry who can’t speak for themselves and draw attention to that situation.”

What the Data Shows

Coronavirus cases in D.C. continue to rise with a total of 29,509 coronavirus cases reported for New Year's Day. A total of 237 patients are hospitalized.

Virginia reached a peak of 299,963 coronavirus cases, and 17,614 hospitalizations on Friday.

Maryland is at 283,171 COVID-19 cases, and 1,734 patients are currently hospitalized.

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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