Amid frustration in Virginia over scarce vaccine doses and canceled appointments, the governor said Wednesday that more doses are on the way.
Changes are coming that will speed up the process of getting vaccines into arms, Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference.
“I know this has been a source of frustration for many Virginians. I hear you and we’re getting this fixed,” he said.
State officials will identify where there are unused doses and move them to other locations. Doses that were intended to be patients’ second dose will now be other patients’ first dose. Another 40,000 shots can be added to the 105,000 shots available this week, in a 20% hike.
The state will set up one centralized call center to get everyone on the list for vaccination.
COVID restrictions that were set to expire at the end of this month are extended until the end of February. These include a mask mandate for people age 5 and older and a 10-person limit on public gatherings.
Also new on Wednesday: Available vaccines for group 1b will be evenly split into two categories. Fifty-percent of these doses will be for residents 65 and older; the other half will go to front-line workers “in priority order,” people ages 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions or disabilities, and people in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant camps.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now making the case to reopen schools nationwide, even before teachers and staff can be assured of vaccinations.
Despite a new CDC report that says there is little medical evidence schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission of COVID19, teachers and many parents have been concerned about the safety of returning to a physical classroom.
Vaccinations for educators are moving forward, although many districts aren’t ready to detail reopening plans yet.
Loudoun County Schools gave shots to more than 3,700 employees in the effort’s first week, and this week hope to double that number.
The school board on Tuesday discussed a motion to return to hybrid learning as soon as next month.
Prince George’s County Public Schools aims to start vaccinating teachers on Feb. 1 through a partnership with Kaiser.
“As vaccination efforts ramp up, we are reassessing learning options and the timeline for implementation of in-person learning,” schools CEO Monica Goldson said.
The district will reassess reopening plans in mid-February, Goldson said.
D.C. and Fairfax public schools have also started giving out shots.
Lawmakers have urged the Biden administration to choose Northern Virginia for a mass COVID-19 vaccination site.
Northern Virginia Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton signed onto a letter saying such a site would be the easiest way to meet supply with demand.
Health districts are ready to administer vaccines once they have enough supply, the lawmakers said.
“Northern Virginia also has the highest demand for vaccines in the country,” the letter said, citing Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Lab data.
President Joe Biden has proposed FEMA set up 100 of these mass vaccination sites, in one of several efforts the federal government is undertaking.
Maryland is set to receive $258 million in rental relief from the federal government. Another $148 million will go directly to the state's largest counties, including Montgomery and Prince George's.
“We look forward to working with legislative leaders to determine the best way to utilize these resources for Marylanders in need," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a press release.
Arlington County announced Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will give $2 million to support vaccination efforts.
A Maryland group is working to connect seniors with information about how to get their shots. You can check out The Vaccine Hunters here.
Certain Walmart stores in Maryland and Washington, D.C., will soon offer vaccines to eligible groups.
The stores, including D.C. locations at 310 Riggs Road NE and 99 H Street NW, will only give shots to registered customers who are eligible under local vaccine rules.
Walmart says it plans to roll out an online registration portal next week.
What the Data Shows
Cases in the D.C. region are still leveling off, signaling good news for hospitals that have dealt with surging infections over the past month.
The leveling trend appears nationwide. Nearly every state reported a decrease in average cases compared to last week. The only exception was Alabama, where cases increased by 4% compared to last week.
Hospitalizations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have all decreased from highs reported roughly two weeks ago.
The seven-day average increased slightly in D.C. (from 206 to 209) and in Virginia (from 3,300 to 3,411). Maryland’s seven-day average fell from 2,062 to 2,029.
As of Monday, 51,421 first doses of vaccine have been administered to D.C. residents and health care workers who work in the District. In Maryland, 363,282 first doses have been administered as of Wednesday. In Virginia, 497,581 doses have been administered. Today, D.C. reported 165 new cases and seven additional deaths. Maryland had 1,939 new cases and 33 deaths. Virginia reported 3,676 additional infections and 47 deaths.
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
To get a better idea of when you'll be eligible to receive a vaccine, use our tool below.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- There are growing concerns the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was also a superspreader event for the men and women defending the building.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan outlined plans to put the infrastructure in place to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations when a higher volume of doses becomes available. Six mass vaccination sites are planned, including one at Six Flags America.
- Georgetown University says it will discipline medical students who received COVID-19 vaccines though they were not eligible to receive them.
- Just as millions of Americans are rolling up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccine, the News4 I-Team has learned the outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services made it much harder to get compensated for the most common vaccine injury.
- COVID-19 vaccine supply shortages forced Inova Health System to cancel first-dose appointments for people in Northern Virginia’s Group 1B, a group that includes employees of Fairfax County Public Schools.
- D.C.’s child care workers are asking officials not to push back their COVID-19 vaccinations.
- 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.
- Police officers who risked their lives during the deadly riots inside the U.S. Capitol have been hailed as heroes. On Friday, Chief Robert Contee said some of those heroes have since tested positive for COVID-19.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's proposed economic relief package would provide $750 for qualifying families if approved by state legislators.
- Maryland reported its first two confirmed cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.