It's been about one year since leaders in our region gave their first press briefings on the coronavirus.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser addressed how the District's response to COVID-19 has evolved since the start of the pandemic.
"I thought it was going to be over by the summer," she said. "This virus has been hard."
The mayor praised D.C. residents for their actions over the past year.
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"D.C. residents blunted the curve – they did – by their actions," she said. "They sacrificed a lot, but it allowed our hospitals and our hospital workers to be able to have what they need to support people and to save lives."
Maryland Gov. 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.
Lines Stretch for Miles at Six Flags Vaccination Site
Frustration and impatience set in at the Six Flags America mass vaccination site in Bowie, Maryland, Friday. Chopper4 captured drivers cutting the 2-mile line.
News4 asked the state if they were doing anything to address the issue. In a statement to News 4 the Maryland department of health said quote
“This is of course a large logistical operation and we are making daily adjustments to solve problems. We understand that people are anxious to receive their vaccination, but line cutting slows the entire process and delays eligible citizens from getting vaccinated.
West Virginia Reopens at 100% Capacity, Keeps Mask Mandate
Despite easing some restrictions, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says face coverings will still be required in his state.
Effective at midnight on Friday, March 5, restaurants, bars, gyms, museums, theaters and other businesses will all be able to re-open at 100% capacity, however.
At bars and restaurants though, 100% capacity refers to seated capacity only – meaning no standing room.
Social distancing and masks are still required.
Public gatherings are also now allowed for up to 100 people.
Virginia Reports First COVID-19-Related Death of Child Under 10
A child under 10 has died of complications from COVID-19 and a chronic health condition, the first reported death of a young child in Virginia since the pandemic began a year ago, state health officials said Thursday.
The health department did not specify what the chronic health condition was or say exactly how old the child was. Officials said the child lived in central Virginia, but declined to release additional information about the child to protect the family's privacy.
Mayor Bowser Announces COVID-19 Updates
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.
D.C. Health also issued four new pieces of guidance, including requirements for travel, this week for those who have been fully vaccinated.
Currently, residents who are 65 or older, and those who are 18 and older with qualifying medical conditions, are eligible for vaccinations.
Essential workers and all teachers and staff who work for a school or child care facility in D.C. are also eligible for the vaccine, and are encouraged to use the District’s pre-registration system when it launches next week if they have not been vaccinated. Signups for these groups have been paused this week in order to prioritize seniors and those with medical conditions.
Bowser announced that Children’s National Hospital is offering vaccination appointments for District residents who are 16 or 17 years old and have qualifying medical conditions. Eligible residents can pre-register here.
New Mass Vaccination Sites Open in DC, Maryland and Virginia
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, Bowser announced Thursday.
The new high-capacity vaccination sites will administer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
A new mass vaccination site at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Stadium in Waldorf opened on Thursday, a week ahead of schedule.
Two other Maryland vaccination sites – in Salisbury and Hagerstown – will also launch this month.
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.
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.
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.
Fauci Says Troops Who Opt Out of Covid Vaccine Are Inadvertently 'Part of the Problem'
White House Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci warned Thursday that U.S. service members who opt out of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine are inadvertently lengthening the pandemic.
"In reality, like it or not, you're propagating this outbreak," Fauci explained to a virtual audience during a town hall with military families. "So instead of being part of the solution, you are innocently and inadvertently being part of the problem by not getting vaccinated."
"You've got to think of your own health, which is really very important, but you got to think about your societal obligation, including people close to you personally as well as other members of families of other individuals," Fauci added.
Last month, the Pentagon said that about one-third of U.S. military service members declined to take the coronavirus vaccine.
What the Data Shows
D.C. reported 108 new cases and three additional lives lost on Friday. D.C.'s daily case rate remains in the red zone and has increased over the past week to 18.1. All the other metrics are in the yellow or green zone.
Maryland had 913 new cases and eight additional deaths. Maryland's positivity rate has continued to fall since mid-January and is currently at 3.28%.
Virginia reported 1,348 new cases and 31 deaths Friday. Virginia's positivity rate – currently at 6.3% – has also fallen since its high in January.
The seven-day average decreased in D.C. and Maryland, but rose by 28 cases to 1,022 in Virginia.
Hospitalizations are down across the board.
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.