Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has a message as coronavirus diagnoses climb in the capital region: The crisis is not behind us.
Hogan wrote an op-ed for USA TODAY praising Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, in part for sharing information in March that spurred the state to prepare for "horrifying scenarios" the pandemic could bring.
Many states, including Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, are experiencing a surge of reported infections. Hogan wrote that the U.S. must listen to health experts to face the "enormous challenges still ahead of us."
However, D.C. will be forced on Monday to temporarily pause one of its main efforts against coronavirus because temperatures are expected to rise near 100°.
Coronavirus testing sites in downtown D.C., Anacostia and at firehouses in some neighborhoods will not open Monday, the city says. Anyone who needs a test should contact their doctor.
Free grocery delivery sites will also be closed, however, meal sites will remain open. Cooling centers are open; call 311 for more information.
The city is expected to announce new guidance on face masks on Monday.
Anyone who wants a reprieve from the monotony of quarantine got some good news on Monday: The National Zoo plans to reopen on Friday and the National Gallery of Art plans to open on Monday. Each will implement a mask policy and only offer entry through timed tickets.
What the Data Shows
For the first time since May, D.C., Maryland and Virginia combined on Sunday added more than 2,000 new coronavirus diagnoses to their lists.
It wasn't a fluke: On average, the number of new cases diagnosed is going up. For the past seven days, DC averaged 62 new cases daily; Maryland, 737 and Virginia, 943.
Maryland on Sunday reported 925 new coronavirus cases, the largest one-day increase since May.
In Virginia, the 1070 new cases reported Sunday were the highest noted in about six weeks.
Northern Virginia continues to stabilize as the rest of the commonwealth faces a growing crisis.
Virginia reported 925 new cases on Monday and just 112 of them were in the greater Northern Virginia region.
The rest of the state added 813 cases, one of the largest increases for those regions since the pandemic began.
All three areas have stepped up testing. The positivity rate, or the percentage of all tests that come back showing a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, is 4.5% in Maryland, where the rate is stable.
The number is 4.4% in D.C. and 7.6% in Virginia, and in both areas, the percentage of tests are coming back positive has grown in recent days.
Generally, the two states and D.C. are looking for rates of less than 10%, meaning fewer than one in ten coronavirus tests come back positive. The World Health Organization has supported a lower goal, less than 5%.
Hospitalizations are also rising in Virginia and Maryland, a concerning trend to watch. One of the top concerns during the pandemic is that hospitals will become flooded.
But overall, hospitals are not reporting being overwhelmed. In Maryland, according to the AP, there are a total of 925 ICU hospital beds available.
In Virginia, there are 3,877 hospital beds free and 613 out of 3,051 (20%) ventilators are currently in use.
In the District, the number of people hospitalized remains stable and under health officials' benchmark.
But coronavirus is spreading through the community too much: Community spread was over the benchmark of one from around July 4 through July 8, the most recent day the rate was calculated.
Community spread is at 1.01, which indicates every person infected is likely to give the infection to someone else.
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
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- The National Gallery of Art is partially back open starting Monday, July 20 with reservations, face masks and social distancing required. Read more.
- Fairfax County is working to fill several hundred contact tracing positions. Read more.
- The ACLU is asking D.C. city officials to require police to wear face masks while working. Read more.
- Nursing homes were required to start reporting COVID-10 data to the federal government nearly two months ago. A report by the News4 I-Team shows that eight local nursing home still have not shared that information.
- Many Fairfax County Public School students want to return to in-person classes. With 67% of students submitting decisions, more than 55% opted for in-person school and 45% chose online-only. Read more.
- 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