The coronavirus pandemic is worsening across D.C., Maryland and Virginia by several measures, although this week shows improvements in the number of deaths and Northern Virginia's caseload.
In the region as a whole, new cases continue to trend upwards and hospitalizations are on the rise.
The metrics are not universally grim. D.C. has gone five days without a recorded coronavirus death. Northern Virginia is faring better than other parts of the state.
In March, Northern Virginia led the commonwealth in terms of coronavirus spread and new infections. But now, Virginia's front line has shifted to the Hampton Roads area.
In the last week, the greater Northern Virginia region increased by 1,354 cases while the rest of Virginia increased by 4,349 cases (this includes confirmed and probable cases because Virginia doesn't distinguish between them at the county level).
Still, Northern Virginia's leaders are exercising caution.
"I think if any government official has learned anything about the last three months, is that you never celebrate a victory here because this is not a sprint, it's a marathon," Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson told News4.
The spike in the commonwealth could be linked to lifting restrictions.
"There are more opportunities for people to pass the virus this summer. As we moved into Phase 3, it really is a risk to all of us," Loudoun County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend said.
What the Data Shows
The number of new cases being diagnosed continues to trend upward.
On Tuesday, reported cases in Maryland increased by 733, the largest single-day increase recorded in over a month.
If you look at a seven-day average of the new coronavirus cases recorded daily, the numbers are also increasing.
D.C.'s 7-day case average is currently at 54, up from 35 last week. Maryland added an average of 552 cases a day over the past week, up from 405 the previous week.
Spread is surging in the commonwealth as a whole. Virginia's average jumped the most, from 547 last week to 809 now.
It's driven by skyrocketing new cases in the eastern region, which includes Norfolk and Newport News.
Another worrisome sign for Virginia: The percent of positive test results is climbing. Virginia hit a low of percent positive about two and a half weeks ago, with three straight days under 6%. In the last couple of days, percent positives are just under 7%.
Hospitalizations in Virginia jumped by 44 to 707. In Maryland, 415 people are currently hospitalized for Covid-19, an increase of 29 from Monday.
This week, 26 residents died in Northern Virginia. Seventy died in the rest of the state.
D.C. has counted a fifth day where no residents were found to have died from coronavirus.
It's good news, but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser warned residents to stay vigilant.
Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said that while she was happy to see no additional loss of life, infections now could lead to hospitalizations and then deaths later.
Nesbitt described deaths and hospitalizations as “lagging indicators.” About two weeks after any increase in cases is detected, an increase in hospitalizations can be expected to follow. Then, two weeks after that, deaths can follow.
The map below shows the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed per 1,000 residents.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
Deadline Approaches for School Options
The deadline is fast approaching for families in Fairfax County and Loudoun County to choose whether or not they will send their children back to the classroom in the fall.
Fairfax County Public Schools said families have until July 15 to make their decision between all-online learning or a hybrid plan in which their children would go to school for a couple of days each week.
Loudoun County Public Schools said parents have until 8 a.m. Wednesday to choose between these two options: a hybrid model of two days of in-person learning, with three days of virtual learning -- or 100-percent online learning.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- Dozens of Loudoun County teachers rallied on Monday, saying they don't feel safe going back for in-school instruction. Read more.
- School nurses in Prince George’s County feel they are being left out of the conversation about returning to school. Here's more.
- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice moved Monday to close bars in the state's largest college town and reimpose restrictions on large gatherings as coronavirus cases rise to record levels. Read more.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan weighed in on how schools should handle reopening in the fall. Here's more.
- Montgomery County Public Schools released a draft of its reopening plan for the upcoming school year on Saturday. Here are the details.
- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says more information on school reopenings could be announced Thursday.
- Virginia entered phase three reopening on July 1, loosening restrictions on restaurants, stores, gyms and pools. But Gov. Northam said more restrictions could be implemented if cases continue to grow.
- Prince George's County entered full phase two on June 23, allowing the MGM Casino and gyms to reopen.
- Washington, D.C., entered phase two on June 22, allowing indoor dining, gyms, libraries and houses of worship to reopen with restrictions.
- Montgomery County entered phase two on June 19, reopening with restrictions gyms, houses of worship, indoor dining and retail.
- Maryland entered phase two of reopening on June 10, permitting indoor dining, outdoor pools and outside amusements to reopen.
How to Stay Safe
There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are the CDC guidelines.
- Anyone over the age of 2 should wear a mask or face covering. Keep it over your nose and mouth.
- Wash your hands often. When you do, scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. As a backup, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who lives outside your home. That means staying six feet away from anyone outside your circle, even if you're wearing masks.
- Always cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Sophia Barnes, Andrea Swalec and Anisa Holmes contributed to this report