As Virginia and other states ease some coronavirus-related restrictions and start sending students back to the classroom, the CDC has issued a warning that reopening too soon could make things worse.
Some Students Return to the Classroom in Virginia
Classrooms that have sat empty for nearly a year once again have students sitting at the desks.
Fairfax County, Alexandria City and Arlington County welcomed back different sets of students Tuesday.
In Fairfax County, high school seniors were able to return to some sense of normalcy, back in the classroom with their friends and teachers.
But school looks different this time around. To keep up with contact tracing, schools in FCPS are implementing QR codes to track student movement and lunch will take place at spaced out desks or out in the hallway.
In Arlington County Public Schools, pre-K to second grade and all elementary special education students have returned to school. Similar to FCPS, all in-person learners must complete a daily health screening.
No matter the district, if a student has COVID-19 symptoms, they're advised to stay home.
Alexandria City Public Schools welcomed back kindergarten through fifth grade students who are receiving special education services as well as English language learners.
Next Tuesday, students in grades six through 12 in specialized education and English Language services will return to classrooms in Alexandria.
Coronavirus Outbreak at U.S. Naval Academy
A COVID-19 outbreak at the U.S. Naval Academy has forced a return to remote learning.
The Naval Academy says 98 midshipmen are currently isolating in pairs at a hotel.
They are required to stay in their rooms and attend classes virtually.
No guests or food deliveries are allowed.
CDC Warns States Reopening Too Soon Could Have Consequences
With the U.S. vaccination rollout picking up speed, states eager to reopen for business are easing virus restrictions despite warnings from health officials that moving too quickly could make things worse.
“I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic,” Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Monday.
Virginia is one of several states that has eased restrictions recently, citing declining infection rates and increased vaccinations.
As of Monday, limits on outdoor social gatherings have increased to 25 people, outdoor sports can now have 30% capacity and alcohol sales in restaurants and bars now cut off at midnight instead of 10 p.m.
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.
Montgomery County's health director briefed the County Council this morning and mentioned the CDC's recommendation to not lift restrictions.
He also spoke about efforts to make the COVID-19 vaccine more equitable.
County health officer Travis Gayles says the percentage of people vaccinated is starting to mirror the county’s demographic makeup.
He says the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine should help the numbers continue to trend in the right direction.
Maryland officials recently announced that the state will begin deploying 50,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine this week.
"These doses will be deployed across the state this week, including to mass vaccination sites, hospitals, community health centers, pharmacies, and local health departments," Gov. Larry Hogan said.
Hogan said Six Flags America vaccination site in Prince George's County will double from 2,000 to more than 4,000 shots per day.
Merck & Co. Will Help Produce Johnson & Johnson’s Newly Approved Coronavirus Vaccine
Millions of doses of the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are being shipped out across the country and will be available to eligible Americans beginning Tuesday.
Drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved coronavirus vaccine in an effort to expand supply more quickly, a Biden administration official confirmed Tuesday.
The announcement comes as the White House aims to speed the production of the single-dose vaccine. Johnson & Johnson says it is on pace to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June.
What the Data Shows
Virginia is reporting 843 new cases and 144 deaths. The state says it is still working to clear a backlog of death certificates.
Maryland has 468 new cases and 26 deaths.
D.C. reported 83 cases and no deaths.
The test positivity rate is also down in all three spots.
About 8% of Maryland's population is fully vaccinated as of Monday. In Virginia, 8.6% is vaccinated. D.C. is reporting a total of 4.2% of residents are fully vaccinated.
Daily hospitalizations fell in Maryland and Virginia but increased from 168 to 177 in D.C.
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
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- 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. expanded vaccine eligibility, meaning residents over 65, working essential jobs or with certain chronic conditions can try to book appointments. But many residents were stopped from registering by technical problems.
- 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.
- Many D.C. restaurant workers who already were coping with the safety hazards and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic also are facing increased sexual harassment, a report from a labor organization says.
- Face masks are required in all National Park Service buildings, and on land maintained by the Park Service when physical distancing is not possible, federal officials have said.
- Virginia dropped its curfew and relaxed some other COVID-19 restrictions, including on outdoor gatherings, as of March 1.
- Thousands of students returned to classrooms as schools reopened Feb. 16 in Frederick County, Maryland, and in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia.0
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam directed all schools to offer in-person classes by March 15, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other leaders say it's possible to reopen safely.
- The Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously to bring all students back in-person for hybrid learning by March 16.
- D.C. lifted its ban on indoor dining, but libraries and recreation centers are still closed.
- Bars and restaurants in Maryland can remain open past 10 p.m starting Feb. 1. Restaurants will still have to operate at no more than 50% indoor capacity.
- All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo remain closed due to COVID-19.
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.