Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on July 22

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

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Go here for the latest updates on July 23, 2020.

A number of indicators showing that the pandemic is worsening across D.C., Maryland and Virginia have officials and residents reconsidering the path forward.

D.C. strengthened its mask order, mandating that masks be worn by all people over the age of 3 most of the time when they're out of the home. Masks will be required even when outdoors, for example waiting for a bus.

"You don't know when you won't be able to social distance," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said. "If you go out, wear a mask."

Exceptions include when you're vigorously exercising, alone in an office or actively eating or drinking.

While the volume of coronavirus tests is on par with health officials' goals for each area, the climbing number of cases, especially among young people, and the nascent uptick in hospitalizations are igniting concern.

Take schools, for example. Even districts that put leg work into offering some in-person classes are planning to start the year completely virtually.

Fairfax County Public Schools announced they would change course to have the first quarter of the year completely online. Montgomery County announced the first semester will be completely online, with no fall or winter sports.

Stafford and Loudoun officials all say they're watching the numbers and will announce plans in the coming weeks. Washinton D.C. postponed its decision to the end of the month.

In D.C, the number of cases in kids under the age of 14 is rising.

"Mini-brains" are minuscule organoids made from stem cells that mimic the behavior of the human brain. A team at Johns Hopkins University is using “mini-brains” to study the affects of the coronavirus on the brain without using animal research. Dr. Thomas Hartung of Johns Hopkins joined LX News to talk about what his team is learning from this research.

Here are some child care resources and coping tips as the pandemic drags on.

What the Data Shows

D.C. recorded 104 new cases on Wednesday, its largest single-day increase since June 4. The number of new cases diagnosed daily in Maryland and Virginia continues to trend upward.

The virus still is spreading through the community, and many people who are diagnosed are not clustered together, D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said Wednesday.

The proportion of people under 40 diagnosed with COVID-19 has skyrocketed to 66% (up from 41% before July 1). The rate of D.C. residents under 40 being hospitalized has doubled.

There have also been increases in the number of cases in kids under the age of 14.

A temporary dip in cases may be seen in the coming days because it was too hot to conduct testing at some sites in D.C. But long term care facility testing hasn't slowed, and more caregivers and staff are getting diagnosed, Nesbitt said.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia each appear to be meeting overall testing goals. Lower positivity rates are, in general, better because it indicates officials are sampling enough people to get a good picture of trends.

The positivity rate in Maryland is 4.49%; D.C.'s is the lowest at 2.4%; Virginia is the highest at 7.9%.

In Virginia and Maryland, it hospitalizations are trending upward, but they remain stable in D.C. Health officials had expected to see more hospitalizations at some point after cases began rising.

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

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

Local Coronavirus Headlines

  • D.C. will empower inspectors to issue on-the-spot citations to businesses that violate social distancing rules.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools has shifted to a 100%-online start to the school year, citing health data. Read more.
  • The top health officials in five of Maryland's largest counties and Baltimore City have asked the state health department to bring back more restrictions amid a rise in coronavirus diagnoses. Read more.
  • A federal judge refused Monday to temporarily block enforcement of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive orders aimed at reducing COVID-19’s spread. Read more.
  • The National Zoo is set to reopen Friday. Visitors over 6 years old need to wear a mask and everyone would need to reserve a free timed-entry ticket. Read more.
  • 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 homes still have not shared that information.

Reopening Tracker

How to Stay Safe

There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are the CDC guidelines.

  • 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.

Sophia Barnes, Andrea Swalec and Anisa Holmes contributed to this report

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