Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Jan. 7

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

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The United States reported a record number of coronavirus cases and deaths on Wednesday, according to a tally by NBC News.

Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. has seen more than 21 million cases and 360,000 deaths.

Nationwide, one person died from the virus every 34 seconds, according to NBC News.

Newly-elected Rep. Jake LaTurner, R-Kansas, became one of the latest U.S. lawmakers to test positive for the coronavirus, he announced on Twitter Thursday morning.

The congressman had appeared on the House floor to vote following a day of mayhem and violence on the Capitol grounds Wednesday. He is now quarantining and will not return to the floor "until he is cleared to do so," his tweet said.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that those next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine – priority group 1B – would include teachers, people over the age of 75, mail carriers, corrections officers, police, firefighters, grocery store workers and transit workers.

Of those in phase 1B, the largest group on the list is the state’s 285,000 teachers and childcare workers.

“Teachers are critical to getting schools back open, and that's critical to people getting back to work and literally getting back to normal,” Northam said.  

State health officials say they received fewer initial doses than expected. Another 100,000 doses will be delivered to the commonwealth this week, but as News 4's Drew Wilder reports it's still not enough to vaccinate all of the first priority group.

Although he stressed the need to get students back in school, Northam said schools don't have to wait for teachers to be vaccinated. He also revealed that year-round school is being considered as a way to get students back on track.

“One of the things that we are certainly entertaining is looking at year-round schooling for the next year. Perhaps adding increased days this next summer to really help our kids get caught up,” Northam said. 

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.

Virginia is vaccinating people slower than most states, according to data from the CDC.

Virginia ranks 38th among all states and D.C. for vaccinations per capita as of Wednesday, when Northam addressed the state's progress.

Although there is no exact timeline in place, Northam is setting a goal of reaching 50,000 vaccinations per day and believes all Virginians could be vaccinated by this summer.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and Public Health Officer Dr. Barbara
Brookmyer released a statement Thursday that COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the county have begun.

By Jan. 15, all 4,700 doses allocated to Frederick County Health Department will have been distributed to people identified as Group 1A in the Maryland vaccination plan, officials say.

“The goal is to vaccine everyone as fast as possible,” Executive Gardner said. “We know it will take many months to vaccinate our community, so we must continue to stay strong and hold the line.”

All nursing home residents and staff in Frederick County and all health care workers at Frederick Health Hospital who chose to be vaccinated have already received their first dose of the vaccine, the statement said

First responders and other health care providers have either received their first dose or are in the process of scheduling their appointments.

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.

Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks fired back against Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan after he said her county was among those lagging behind in vaccinations.

“You think I don't want to put vaccines in people's arms? We absolutely want to put vaccines in the arms of all of our residents. This jurisdiction was the one that was hardest hit, but it’s also the one that has been neglected, really, if we’re honest about it, for decades now,” Alsobrook said. 

She said that even with all the county's planning, there weren't enough trained people to vaccinate the people that would be distributing the vaccine.

The county still has most of the 3,700 vaccines it received a week ago. The hope is that volunteers like school nurses and the arrival of some of the Maryland National Guard will expedite the process starting Thursday.

Part of the hold up was that frontline health care workers weren’t signing up to get their designated vaccinations.

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

On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the National Guard would deploy emergency support teams across Maryland to help local health departments to expand vaccination capacity.

Teams of nine-to-14 guard members were deployed starting Wednesday.

“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 at a news conference.

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.

What the Data Shows

D.C. reported 268 new coronavirus cases and two additional lives lost on Thursday. Maryland had 2,970 new cases and 44 deaths. Virginia recorded 3,774 new confirmed infections and 42 deaths.

Average cases in the region increased slightly. As of Thursday, seven-day averages in D.C., Maryland and Virginia were at 252, 2,745 and 3,382, respectively.

For the third consecutive day, a record number of hospitalizations were recorded in Virginia – 2,663 Virginians are currently hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Maryland reported Thursday that 1,834 people were hospitalized. D.C. reported there were 265 hospitalized patients on Wednesday.

More than 231,000 people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, according to local health departments. More than 3,678 people in the region have been fully vaccinated with both doses.

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.

Correction (January 7, 2021; 11:45 p.m.): A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Virginia ranks 41st in the U.S. This was based on a list that included U.S. territories. Virginia ranks 38th among all states and D.C.

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