The U.S. has surpassed 4 million confirmed coronavirus diagnoses, and by several key metrics, the pandemic is getting worse in the D.C. area, too.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 4 million on Thursday, with more than 144,000 deaths, according to a tally by NBC News.
Signals that the pandemic is worsening in the D.C. area right now include that more people are catching coronavirus and more people are being admitted to hospitals for treatment.
As hospitalizations grow, nurses demonstrating outside MedStar Washington Hospital Center called for more personal protective equipment (PPE) that they don't have to reuse. They say the process used to clean N95 masks is deficient.
"We're scared," one nurse told News4.
MedStar told News4 that they use a process approved by the CDC and FDA that's employed in other hospitals, and reiterated there is still a national shortfall of PPE.
Montgomery County will begin deploying teams to test residents and provide health support in zip codes that face a pressing crisis. Those zip codes (20850, 20866, 20877, 20901, 20902, 20903, 20906 and 20910) cover parts of Silver Spring, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Takoma Parka and more.
Residents may get referred by a community agency or can call 240-777-1755 to see if they qualify.
Data from the District also indicates that coronavirus spread is increasing.
The spike in cases prompted Mayor Muriel Bowser to issue a new mask order with few exceptions. Everyone over 2 years old must wear a mask when leaving home. Here's more information.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced Wednesday that districts could make their own choices on when to reopen.
In another acknowledgment of the pressing coronavirus threat, the governor asked all lawmakers to join him in encouraging mail-in voting for the November elections.
What the Data Shows
The data shows that D.C., Maryland and Virginia is worse now than it was at the beginning of the month, and metrics indicate things are becoming more critical.
Current hospitalizations, in particular, are up. In Virginia, 801 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 (up 29 since Wednesday) and 528 (up 23 from Wednesday) in Maryland.
On July 1, around the time case numbers started trending upward, hospitalizations were at 535 in Virginia and 461 in Maryland.
Health officials expected hospitalizations to go up after cases began surging. Increasing hospitalizations now mean death rates are expected to rise within a couple of weeks.
The death of a 24-year-old woman in D.C. from coronavirus-related complications comes as 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 kids under 14 who are diagnosed.
The District tracks several metrics to calculate how quickly coronavirus is spreading among residents, and recent data shows community spread is trending upwards.
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
- Maryland will allow local school districts to make the call on when it's appropriate to reopen, State Superintendent of Education Karen Salmon said Wednesday.
- The District implemented strict new mask guidelines, saying face coverings must be worn whenever you leave home, with few exceptions. Read more.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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