Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Nov. 12

Here's what to know about the coronavirus data, resources and reopenings across the D.C. area

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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.

The Charles County Board of Commissioners voted to uphold Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's executive order reinstating some earlier COVID-19 restrictions statewide. News4's Tracee Wilkins reports in another week Charles County leaders may meet again to consider adding more restrictions as the county's cases continue to rise.

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 Dec. 9

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.

After four weeks of increases in the coronavirus case numbers, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks is restricting capacity at many businesses and requiring masks to be worn outdoors. Tracee Wilkins reports.

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

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

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How to Stay Safe

There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are guidelines from the CDC:

  • 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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