Vaccinations in our region are ramping up thanks to increased supply from the federal government and new vaccination sites opening up in Virginia and Maryland.
DC Announces Updates to Vaccination Rollout and Reopening
Three new vaccination sites will be established in D.C., some high school sports are tentatively set to resume on March 15 and the District's new vaccination pre-registration system is launching next week, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday.
The new high-capacity vaccination sites will administer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In regards to sports, Bowser warned that the tentative plan to resume high school sports on March 15 "would not be able to move forward if we saw any significant changes in our metrics."
"The expectation is that sports will resume in phases, with the lowest-contact or no-contact activities beginning first," she said.
DC Health also issued four new pieces of guidance, including requirements for travel, this week for those who have been fully vaccinated.
Northern Virginia Opens Its First Mass Vaccination Site in Woodbridge
The Virginia Department of Health opened its first mass vaccination site Wednesday in Northern Virginia.
The site is located at the old Gander Mountain store in Woodbridge and is not open to the public. Instead, the health department is scheduling people who already registered for appointments.
Walmart is operating the clinic and is able to administer about 600 shots a day.
Walmart is receiving vaccine doses directly from the federal government’s pharmacy partnerships just like CVS and Walgreens, but Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said there have been some challenges.
The mass vaccination site in Woodbridge will be open through Saturday and the Virginia Department of Health said Walmart will set up a mass clinic in Loudoun County next week.
New Mass Vaccination Sites Open in Maryland
The mass vaccination site at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Stadium in Waldorf opened on Thursday, a week ahead of schedule.
Two other sites – in Salisbury and Hagerstown – will also launch this month.
Maryland officials have also expanded text-based outreach to book vaccine appointments for eligible Prince George’s County residents at the Six Flags America mass vaccination site.
The state has committed to reserve at least 500 appointments for county residents, in addition to what county residents are able to book online and through the call center, to help ensure vaccine equity, officials said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Executive Marc Elrich says Montgomery County is capable of establishing its own mass vaccination site, after state officials chose not to set up a site in the county due to federal supply line limitations.
Elrich says all it needs from the state are the doses.
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.
Maryland Approaches One Year Since the First Confirmed Cases of COVID-19
Governor Larry Hogan announced that Friday, March 5 will be recognized as COVID-19 Day of Remembrance to honor the Marylanders who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
Friday will mark a full year since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Maryland.
The Maryland flag will be lowered to half-staff to mark the occasion and a twilight ceremony will be held at the State House Friday evening. Members of the public are encouraged to join the ceremony virtually via livestream.
Coronavirus Cases in Maryland by Zipcode
Data for ZIP codes with 7 or fewer cases is suppressed.
Credit: Anisa Holmes/NBC Washington
Target, Krogers, Walmart Among Retailers That Will Still Require Masks Despite End of Mandates
Macy’s, Starbucks, Target and Kroger's, which also owns supermarket chains including Ralphs and Dillons, said they will continue to require that customers wear face coverings. Also keeping restrictions in place are CVS, Walgreens and Best Buy.
The announcements come as Texas and Mississippi roll back mask mandates.
Health experts say relaxing restrictions now could lead to another surge, especially with variants spreading.
“I don’t think this is the right time,” said Dr. Mark McClellan, former head of the Food and Drug Administration. “Texas has been making some real progress but it’s too soon for full reopening and to stop masking around others.”
Vaccinations for Essential Workers in D.C. Paused, Travel Restrictions Will be Eased for Vaccinated Residents
Vaccination sign ups in D.C. will be paused for one week for grocery store employees, manufacturing workers and other essential workers in order to give priority to the elderly and those with medical conditions, officials say.
Only D.C. residents 65 years and older and those ages 18 to 64 with qualifying medical conditions will be allowed to book appointments this week.
This comes after residents reported technical difficulties when trying to sign up for vaccine appointments last week.
As the District prepares to receive 6,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will also open several new high capacity vaccination centers.
Travel restrictions will also be loosened for those who have been vaccinated, Bowser announced.
What the Data Shows
D.C. reported 196 cases and one additional life lost on Thursday.
Maryland had 809 new cases and three additional deaths.
Virginia reported 886 new cases and 25 deaths Thursday, one of the lowest counts reported after a weeks-long surge due to a backlog of death certificates.
The seven-day average and test positivity rate is down in Virginia and Maryland, but up by two cases in D.C. Hospitalizations remain leveled off.
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.