Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Jan. 27

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

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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.  

In Loudoun County, some parents are eager for their students to swiftly return to the classroom. But the teacher’s union wants more vaccinations first. News4’s Juliana Valencia reports.

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.

Inova was forced to cancel thousands of upcoming appointments because there aren't enough doses. But as Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports, the numbers suggest there are some unused doses out there.

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.

To get a better idea of when you'll be eligible to receive a vaccine, use our tool below.

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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