Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Jan. 6

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

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As cases rise in the United States, new variant strains of the coronavirus are of increasing concern. Georgia officials said Tuesday they have confirmed the state’s first case of the COVID-19 variant first seen in the United Kingdom.

Health officials said Tuesday that lab tests found an 18-year-old Georgia man with no travel history is infected with the variant.

Cases of the United Kingdom variant have also been reported in Colorado, California, Florida and New York.

If health care workers and other first responders miss appointments, others could be called so doses are not wasted. Some D.C. residents say they have made it onto vaccine waitlists at local grocery stores.

"If there are people who are available at the end of the day to be vaccinated, then you should vaccinate them," Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said at a news conference Monday.

However, she specified that appointments should only be made online, through D.C.'s online portal, rather than by calling local stores.

On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced at a news conference that steps would be taken to speed up the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in the state.

Hogan said more than 270,000 doses of the vaccine have been provided to frontline workers in the state over the past three weeks, but that only 76,916 people had been vaccinated as of Tuesday.

“While none of us are thrilled with the pace of this rollout over the first couple of weeks, I can assure you that it is improving every day," Hogan said.

Starting Wednesday, the governor said the National Guard will begin to deploy emergency support teams across Maryland to help local health departments to expand vaccination capacity. Teams will have nine-to-14 guard members to help provide logistical support for vaccination clinics.

Amid growing concern that some life-saving vaccine doses are being wasted — in some cases, tossed in the trash instead of going into the arms of Americans — News4’s Doreen Gentzler takes a look at what’s happening locally.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks held a press conference Wednesday morning on the county’s COVID-19 response and vaccine distribution plan.

Alsobrooks said the process has been slow and the county will need additional help vaccinating vaccinators in order to move out of Phase 1A. The National Guard will arrive Thursday to provide additional support, she said.

The general public in Prince George's County can expect vaccinations to begin by late spring, Alsobrooks said.

Several other regional leaders are expected to address vaccinations and surging infections in their jurisdictions Wednesday.

County Executive Marc Elrich will give a news conference about vaccine distribution in Montgomery County at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Gov. Ralph Northam will provide updates at 2 p.m. Wednesday on vaccine distribution in Virginia, with speculation that more details will be provided about which recipients will be included in Phase 1B.  

A new study discovered that patients with milder forms of COVID-19 were more likely to lose their sense of taste and smell than patients with worse cases.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Internal Medicine, found that  86% of patients with mild cases developed a loss of taste and smell, compared with 4–7% of those with moderate to severe cases.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert Monday warning patients and health care providers of the risk of false results – particularly false negative results – with the Curative SARS-Cov-2 test.

The Curative SARS-Cov-2 test is a real-time test used to detect the virus that causes COVID-19. The test is authorized for prescription-only use and is performed by collecting a throat or nasal swab or an oral fluid specimen.

The risks of a false negative test result include delayed treatment and increased risk for the patient's close contacts and the larger community.

What the Data Shows

D.C. reported 316 new coronavirus cases and five additional lives lost on Wednesday. Maryland had 3,146 new cases and 47 deaths. Virginia recorded 3,690 new confirmed infections and 32 deaths.

Seven-day averages increased everywhere in the D.C. region. The average in D.C. increased to 246 and Maryland’s average rose to 2,745. Virginia set a new record with a seven-day average of 3,374 daily infections Wednesday.

Virginia continues to show the worst signs in the region.

Virginia’s positivity rate increased to 16.7% – that’s less than four percentage points lower than the state’s all-time high back in April.

Maryland’s positivity rate is at 9.44%, the highest level reached since May. D.C.'s positivity rate is at 6.2%

The number of hospitalized patients with confirmed coronavirus infections in Virginia increased to 2,618 Wednesday, a new record.

Maryland reported a record-breaking 1,862 hospitalizations Wednesday.

Hospitalizations also increased in D.C. – there are currently 265 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the District.

Out of all hospital patients in D.C., 12.2% are coronavirus patients, indicating insufficient health care capacity, according to D.C.'s official reopening metrics.

Vaccinations in the region have surpassed the 200,000 mark as of Wednesday. Local vaccine portals indicate that 742 recipients in Maryland have received their second doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

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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