With the Thanksgiving holiday fewer than 10 days away, many are struggling with advice that family gatherings should be canceled or limited this year.
On one hand, infections are soaring nationwide as more and more people become fatigued with following restrictions.
Cases in the D.C. region have surpassed the 375,000 mark as of Tuesday. Hospitalizations are also at concerningly high levels.
D.C. reported 275 new cases on Tuesday, the highest number since May.
Fifty more people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have died from coronavirus, officials reported Tuesday. It's the largest number of people to die in one day from COVID-19 in our region in about two months.
But on the other hand, there's hopeful news in the race for a vaccine.
Moderna announced Monday its vaccine is nearly 95 percent effective. That's the second major vaccine development in a matter of weeks.
Once a vaccine is proved safe and effective and granted approval by regulators, it will take some time to distribute. Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., have each submitted plans to the federal government.
In general, medical personnel and high-risk groups are set to get first access to a vaccine. Later, officials say it will be made available to anyone who wants one.
Here’s a look at COVID-19 vaccine front-runners, including how much they cost, who has bought them and how they’re stored — which has important implications for distribution.
Maryland will tighten restrictions on businesses, bars and restaurants beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday afternoon.
Bars and restaurants must end all dine-in service after 10 p.m., although takeout and delivery service will still be allowed. Retail businesses, religious institutions and gyms must limit capacity to 50%, in a rollback to phase two levels.
Hogan pushed back against misinformation about the virus and pleaded with residents to prevent people from getting sick, getting hospitalized and dying.
Wearing a mask is “not a limitation on your right to infect other people,” he said.
A Washington Football Team member has tested positive for COVID-19, the team said Tuesday in a statement.
The player immediately began to self-isolate and their close contacts were told to quarantine. The team will move all meetings online and restrict access to the Inova Sports Performance Center.
"The health and safety of our players, coaches and staff is our number one priority," the team said in a statement.
Before that announcement, the Washington Football Team said it will play this Sunday's game against the Bengals without fans in the stands.
The team only started allowing limited fans less than two weeks ago.
As coronavirus cases surge in our area, Fairfax County Public Schools paused plans to have thousands of students return to classrooms today.
Superintendent Scott Brabrand abruptly announced the school district will delay bringing back early HeadStart, pre-K and kindergarten students because of surging coronavirus cases in the county.
In a written statement, Brabrand said in part, “We made this decision as soon as new health metrics were released... We always anticipated the need to potentially adjust our return to school plans as necessary during this ongoing pandemic.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says a one-size-fits-all approach to in-person learning doesn’t make sense.
It’s unclear when Fairfax County could start in-person learning again.
Whether children in our region will return to in-person classes soon learning depends on the school district.
On Wednesday, D.C. public schools are set to bring a limited number of students back to CARES classrooms at 29 elementary schools. Those classrooms will be monitored by a staff member while a teacher gives instruction virtually. So far, 400 families have accepted a seat.
Schools in the city of Falls Church plan to go fully virtual next week. They plan to switch back to hybrid learning the week after Thanksgiving.
In Alexandria, phased reopening has been expanded to include students in the Citywide Special Education program. Families must opt-in for in-person learning. Students will be brought back in groups until Nov. 30.
Officials on Tuesday reversed a decision to cancel next month's Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery.
Organizers said Monday there was no way to ensure safety from the virus at the event, which typically draws large crowds of people to place wreaths on gravestones at the military cemetery. On Tuesday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the cemetery to safely host the event after all.
"We appreciate the families and visitors who take time to honor and remember those who are laid to rest at our nation’s most hallowed ground," McCarthy posted on Facebook.
The courts in Maryland are partially shutting down through the end of the year. Already backlogged because of the pandemic, now there will be no new jury trials in 2020.
Defense attorneys criticized the move, saying their clients are being left to linger in jail.
Coronavirus Cases by Neighborhood in D.C.
Source: D.C. Coronavirus Hub Credit: Anisa Holmes/NBC Washington
Last updated Nov. 24
What the Data Shows
Cases in our region have surpassed the 375,000 mark as of Tuesday. An additional 4,465 COVID-19 cases were diagnosed across D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The District reported 245 new cases, the largest increase since early May. Maryland and Virginia reported 2,149 and 2,071 new cases, respectively.
D.C., Maryland and Virginia reported 50 additional lives lost – the largest 24-hour jump in deaths in two months.
Seven-day averages are rising across the board. D.C. reported an average of 162, up 70 cases from last week. Virginia’s seven-day average is at 1,309, up 187 cases from last week. Maryland has seen the most extreme surge, with a seven-day average up to 1,871, nearly 600 cases higher than last week.
Hospitalizations in Virginia (1,392) are the highest they’ve ever been. In Maryland (1,046) and D.C. (112), hospitalization levels are the highest they’ve been since the summer.
Over the past week in D.C., three metrics have entered the red zone which indicates "substantial community spread." On Tuesday, the city reported that the daily case rate was at 19.9 and the rate of transmission was at 1.21, surpassing the daily case rate and transmission rate upper threshold of 15 and 1.2.
Also, on Nov. 12, percent hospitalization utilization surpassed the upper threshold of 90%, putting hospital usage in the red zone. On Tuesday, that metric had fallen to 81.8%, which puts it in the yellow zone. The green-zone threshold is under 80%.
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
- Officials have reversed a decision to cancel the annual Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery. The event, held in December, will happen after all.
- 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 has reduced 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.
- 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.
- Most new COVID-19 cases in D.C. come from social events, according to data presented by the District's health department.
- Maryland will tighten restrictions on businesses, bars and restaurants starting Friday at 5 p.m. Bars and restaurants must end all dine-in service after 10 p.m., although takeout and delivery service will still be allowed. Retail businesses, religious institutions and gyms must limit capacity to 50%, in a rollback to phase two levels. This comes after the state had already reduced capacity at indoor dining establishments and urged people against traveling to states where coronavirus is spreading too fast.
- Hours before some Fairfax County students were set to return to in-person learning on Tuesday, the school district said that they needed to delay the plan.
- Courts throughout Maryland partially shut down Monday due to the pandemic.
- Virginia announced new measures to fight COVID-19 as cases of the virus have spiked across the country.
- Prince George's County has tightened restrictions and requires masks to be worn outdoors.
- Montgomery County 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.
- D.C.'s mayor extended the city's coronavirus state of emergency to last through the end of the year.
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.