Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on March 2

Here's what to know about the coronavirus data, resources and reopenings for D.C., Maryland and Virginia

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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. 

County believes single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will make equitable distribution easier. Cory Smith reports.

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.

The emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine means that there are now three COVID-19 vaccines in circulation. And the J&J shot differs from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in some important ways that may make it a game changer. NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres joined LX News to explain.

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.

Local Coronavirus Headlines

Reopening Tracker

Although COVID-19 treatments have improved and a vaccine is on the way, even a mild case of the virus can cause long-term complications — including the possibility of erectile dysfunction. Infectious disease expert Dr. Dena Grayson joined LX News with a warning not to let our guards down as we wait for a vaccine.

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.
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