Across the country and in the D.C. area there are clear signs that the pandemic is getting worse: New case numbers are breaking records, a higher percentage of coronavirus tests are coming back positive and more people are being admitted to hospitals.
Maryland reached a new peak in the seven-day rolling average of coronavirus cases counted daily. Virginia has the highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 since May.
D.C.’s daily case rate hit 15.8 per 100,000 residents, officials reported Thursday. That puts one of D.C.'s 14 coronavirus reopening metrics is in the “red zone” and means there is substantial community spread.
“We need all of those metrics to be moving in the same direction to advance or to retreat,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt will review the metrics and make recommendations, Bowser said.
Both Bowser and Nesbitt encouraged people to keep up being cautious. Small gatherings and Halloween celebrations may be linked to the recent uptick in cases, although it's too soon to know if impromptu street parties that followed Joe Biden's proclaimed victory in the presidential race contributed, Nesbitt said.
Nearly 62,000 patients were admitted to hospitals on Wednesday, including about 18,000 people in the D.C. region.
Hospital administrators warn that their staffs may not be able to keep up with a wave of COVID-19 admissions.
Earlier this week the U.S. surpassed 10 million coronavirus cases and some experts are warning the country could reach 20 million cases by Christmas.
That warning is prompting local leaders to act and several updates are expected on Thursday.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday how the state will allocate about $70 million in federal aid as the state braces for months of rising coronavirus cases, including $20 million for personal protective equipment.
Hogan specifically named Charles County among 10 other counties with positivity rates about 5%, pinning them as areas of heightened concern. In Charles County, positive cases have doubled during the last week.
Prince George's county saw a 22% increase and Montgomery County has had more than a thousand new cases.
Leaders in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties are also set to give more details on plans Thursday. Both counties are still in phase two of reopening.
Coronavirus Cases by Neighborhood in D.C.
Source: D.C. Coronavirus Hub Credit: Anisa Holmes/NBC Washington
Last updated Nov. 24
Prince George's County plans to require masks outdoors and tighten restrictions on businesses and gathering sizes after four weeks of rising coronavirus case numbers.
Capacity limits will be lowered for retailers, restaurants, houses of worship, gyms and other establishments. Gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors and could be lower depending on the venue size.
Health Officer Ernest Carter says residents should wear a mask whenever they are outside their home.
County executive Angela Alsobrooks said the new restrictions will take effect at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday could exacerbate the rise in coronavirus cases. An increase in gatherings, especially large or indoor ones, and travelling could magnify the coronavirus surge.
Some colleges are telling students not to return to campus after Thanksgiving amid concerns they could spread the virus.
The University of Maryland will go all-virtual after Thanksgiving break. Students will be offered a coronavirus test before heading home.
Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia will also finish this semester online. UVA says it will require every student to be tested for COVID before leaving campus. George Washington University is taking it a step further and has already opting to hold the spring semester virtually.
What the Data Shows
D.C., Maryland and Virginia broke a collective record for the highest number of coronavirus diagnoses, numbers released Wednesday show. On Thursday, however, the number had come back down.
On Thursday, D.C. reported 128 new cases compared to 206 the day before. Maryland reported 1477, down from 1714 the previous day. Virginia reported 937, a decrease from 1254.
Positivity rates, which reflect the percentage of coronavirus tests that come back showing an infection, are rising. That indicates that more testing isn’t the only reason that case numbers are going up.
The rate is 6.5% in Virginia, 5.65% in Maryland and 3.5% in D.C.
In Maryland, the seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus cases has hit 1419, a new peak. That number is 118 in D.C. and 1,172 in Virginia, both higher than one week and one month ago.
D.C.’s daily case rate hit 15.8 per 100,000 residents, officials reported Thursday. That metric is in the “red zone” and means there is substantial community spread.
D.C.’s hospital utilization rate is about 86%, lower than the 90% threshold that would mean there is insufficient capacity.
In Virginia, 943 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number since May.
The map below shows the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed per 100,000 residents.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- Prince George's County is tightening restrictions and requiring masks be worn outdoors.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday how the state will allocate about $70 million in federal aid as the state braces for months of rising coronavirus cases.
- Eight players on the University of Maryland football team tested positive for COVID-19. The game against Ohio State has been canceled.
- Maryland released a new contact tracing app and at 5 p.m. Wednesday reduces indoor operations for bars and restaurants from 75% to 50% in response to rising coronavirus cases and increased hospitalizations.
- A review by the News4 I-Team has found concerns that Prince George’s County, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state, has received what some are calling an underwhelming share of the more than $165 million in aid thus far.
- Coronavirus hospitalizations in Maryland this week reached the highest level since June. Here's how the state is responding.
- D.C. now requires travelers from all but four states get tested for COVID-19, once before travel and again if they plan to stay in the District for more than three days. Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii and Vermont are the exceptions.
- Almost 100 employees at motor vehicle branches around the D.C. area have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Maryland and Virginia released plans Oct. 20 for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine, but D.C. is staying mum for now.
- Mayor Muriel Bowser is urging D.C. residents who use iPhone or Android smartphones to opt in for a new COVID-19 contact-tracing app.
- Most new COVID-19 cases in D.C. come from social events, according to data presented by the District's health department.
- Maryland rolled back capacity limits at indoor dining establishments and urged people against traveling to states where coronavirus is spreading too fast.
- Montgomery County has reduced capacity limits at many businesses, including for indoor dining, to 25%. The county previously stopped giving waivers for alcohol sales after 10 p.m.
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said that his administration is focused on promoting healthy behaviors such as mask-wearing, frequent hand washing and social distancing rather than rolling back reopening as cases rise.
- D.C.'s mayor extended the city's coronavirus state of emergency to last through the end of the year.
- Maryland child care providers can return to the full teacher-to-child ratios for which they are licensed, state officials said, and some nursing homes will be able to resume indoor visits.
- Montgomery and Prince George's counties are among those that did not enter phase three with the state of Maryland. Here's a roundup of counties in our area.
- Prince George's County allowed tanning salons, banquet halls and other businesses to open with restrictions. Officials recently adjusted some other rules too. Read more.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan authorized all public schools in the state to begin “safely” reopening because state metrics on the coronavirus show improvements. The state “strongly suggests” that local school districts bring students back into schools but cannot force them to do so, Hogan said. Montgomery and Prince George's schools both affirmed that they were not altering plans to hold classes online throughout the first half of the school year.
- Prince George's County revisited its phase two reopening executive order due to an uptick in coronavirus cases, according to the county executive's office.
- Virginia entered phase three reopening July 1, loosening restrictions on restaurants, stores, gyms and pools. Northam has said more restrictions could be implemented if cases continue to grow.
- D.C. entered phase two June 22, allowing indoor dining, gyms, libraries and houses of worship to reopen with restrictions.
- Montgomery County entered phase two June 19, reopening with restrictions gyms, houses of worship, indoor dining and retail.
How to Stay Safe
There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are guidelines from the CDC:
- Anyone over the age of 2 should wear a mask or face covering. Keep it over your nose and mouth.
- Wash your hands often. When you do, scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. As a backup, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who lives outside your home. That means staying six feet away from anyone outside your circle, even if you're wearing masks.
- Always cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.