President Joe Biden announced Thursday evening that he will direct states to make all adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccines by May 1.
"If we all do our part, this country will be vaccinated soon, our economy will be on the mend, our kids will be back in school, and we'll have proven once again that this country can do anything," Biden said.
Although significant progress is being made at the national level, there are concerns closer to home about ensuring equitable access to vaccines for D.C. residents. Read more below.
What the Data Shows
Recent metrics show cases in our region are rising slightly after a months-long trend of decline.
D.C.'s daily case rate, which was at 15 just a week ago is now back up to 22.7, squarely in the red zone indicating "substantial community spread."
Maryland's average test positivity has also started to increase slightly. It's now at 3.6% after reaching a low of 3.26% nine days ago.
Virginia, however, continues to show signs of improvement, with most metrics trending downward.
D.C. reported 154 new cases and no additional deaths. In Maryland, 990 new cases were reported and 16 people died. Virginia recorded 1,091 new cases and 52 deaths.
The seven-day average in our region appears to be increasing slightly, after weeks of consistent decline. D.C. is currently at 166 cases, Maryland is at an average of 829 and Virginia's seven-day average is down by 37 cases to 1,091.
Hospitalizations are down across the board. In Virginia, 925 people are currently hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Maryland has 765 hospitalized residents. In D.C., 153 people are hospitalized.
In Maryland, 788 people are hospitalized – down 13 from Wednesday. D.C.'s hospitalization count is up by three cases to 165.
Local Coronavirus Headlines
Almost 40% of DC's Shots Have Gone to Non-Residents
The News4 I-Team has been tracking the data and found despite older and medically vulnerable residents being eligible for vaccines for several weeks, 39.9% of the doses administered in the District have still gone to people who don't live there.
By comparison, only 2.5% of Virginia's vaccine doses are listed as having gone to out-of-state residents. An additional 7% were missing residency information.
Going forward, the District will prioritize 90% of its appointments for eligible residents only, officials say.
On a positive note, D.C.'s new preregistration system is working smoothly.
Nearly 80,000 people preregistered to receive COVID-19 vaccines within the city’s first day-and-a-half of using its new system, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday.
D.C. has partially and fully vaccinated nearly 20,000 residents, the majority of which are senior citizens.
D.C. will send out more than 13,500 appointment notices Friday morning. Once residents receive those notices, they will have 48 hours to sign up for vaccine appointments.
Maryland Will Reopen at 100% Capacity, Prince George's County at 50%
Prince George's County will reopen at 50% starting on Friday at 5 p.m., Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced at a press conference Thursday.
Establishments including movie theaters, gyms, indoor dining, restaurants, banquet halls, receptions, meeting rooms and houses of worship will all be affected.
Indoor private gatherings are limited to a maximum of 20 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 50 people.
Mask wearing and other safety protocols will continue to be required in public places and public transportation.
Maryland will also lift capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, religious facilities and gyms on Friday – however at 100% capacity.
Individual counties remain empowered to reopen or maintain restrictions based on their own metrics. Being one of the counties hardest hit by the pandemic, Alsobrooks chose not to fully reopen with the rest of the state.
“While we are not ready open as far as the rest of the state at this point, we are pleased by the information the health department is seeing, and our metrics tell us that we can safely do more than we are currently doing,” Alsobrooks said.
Alsobrooks expressed her optimism that the county is heading in the right direction, highlighting the declining case rate, infection rate and positivity rate.
Vaccinations are also up in the county. The county can now administer up to 15,000 vaccines per week. The health department is currently operating five vaccination clinics around the county.
Montgomery County to Announce Reopening Decision on Friday
Montgomery County will announce a decision today about how much it will loosen COVID-19 restrictions, now that the state of Maryland is moving into Phase 3. The County Council meets at 1:30pm and the County Executive is scheduled to hold a Zoom briefing at 2:30pm.
AMC Theaters in Prince George's To Open On March 19
AMC Theaters in PG will open on March 19, in accordance with Gov. Hogan’s capacity rules. Montgomery County theaters have yet to announce a reopening date as they await local guidelines.
Reopening on the 19th:
- AMC Academy 8
- AMC Center Park 8
- AMC Magic Johnson Capital Center 12
- AMC Rivertowne 12
- AMC Classic Churchville 7
- AMC Columbia 14
- AMC Lexington Park 6
- AMC Owings Mills 17
- AMC Security Square 8
- AMC St. Charles Town Ctr 9
- AMC White Marsh 16
Waiting for local guidelines:
- AMC DINE-IN Rio Cinemas 18
- AMC Wheaton Mall 9
Back to School in the D.C. Area
Many local school districts are looking toward the fall and bringing students back full time.
Montgomery, Fauquier and Arlington County public schools announced Thursday that they’re looking to return to in-person instruction five days a week, though families can choose to stay virtual.
Earlier this week, Loudoun County also announced plans to bring students back 5 days a week in the new school year.
More Local Headlines
- Amid concerns that Maryland isn't distributing vaccines equitably, Gov. Larry Hogan and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced that more shots will be set aside at a mass vaccination site for county residents.
- D.C. launched a new vaccine pre-registration system. Here are your questions about it, answered.
- Maryland will lift capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, religious facilities and gyms starting Friday at 5 p.m., but several safety precautions will remain in place, the governor announced.
- Other than supply, equity continues to be one of the biggest issues plaguing the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Maryland.
- A story to make you smile: A Maryland EMT reunited with his grandmother after a year by giving her the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The District’s high-capacity COVID-19 vaccination clinics received rave reviews from many residents who showed up for their one-shot dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
- A year after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency following the state’s first three confirmed cases of COVID-19, one of those patients says she's still traumatized by social media's reaction to her diagnosis.
- In the next few weeks, many more Virginians will be heading to pharmacies for their shots. But there's still one problem — not all the pharmacies can coordinate with the state's vaccine waiting list.
- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser lost her only sister and oldest sibling to COVID-19.
- More than 1,000 Washington, D.C., residents have now died of COVID-19.
- NBC News is making finding information on when, how and where to obtain your coronavirus vaccination easier with its Plan Your Vaccine website.
- Medical schools across the country report a spike in applications, especially from students of color. At Georgetown University’s medical school, applications are up 24% overall and 40% from underrepresented minorities. The University of Maryland along with Howard University have also seen a rising number of applicants.
Key Charts and Graphs
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
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.
- Washington, D.C. signups– vaccinate.dc.gov
- Maryland signups – www.marylandvax.org/ and covidvax.maryland.gov
- Virginia information – www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/
- Montgomery County – www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/
- Prince George's County – www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/3730/COVID-19-Vaccination
- Howard County – www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Health/MM-Alerts-and-Recalls/COVID-19-Vaccine
- Anne Arundel County – aahealth.org/covid-19-vaccine-faq/
- Fairfax County – www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/novel-coronavirus/vaccine
- City of Alexandria – www.alexandriava.gov/health/info/default.aspx?id=119270
- Loudoun County – www.loudoun.gov/covid19vaccine
- Prince William County – coronavirus.pwcgov.org/vaccine-information/ & VDH
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.