As the U.S. stands transfixed, eagerly awaiting the outcome of the election, COVID-19 continues to claim more lives.
On Wednesday, the U.S. set another record with at least 102,000 new infections, according to NBC News. Overall, more than 235,000 people have died in the U.S.
Local cases are rising, too. Both D.C. and Maryland's mayors planned news conferences Thursday to address the surge in cases.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday that anyone visiting D.C. from a state that city officials consider high-risk must get a COVID-19 test before traveling and again after arrival if they plan to stay for more than three days.
Bowser said the restrictions will go into effect Monday.
"We want people to be safe and smart if they do travel," Bowser said at a news conference.
Bowser also announced Wednesday the city's live music pilot program would be extended until Dec. 30. No new venues will be added to the pilot program.
The pilot program allows for 50 people per venue, given that the audience is 30 feet from the stage and performers are six feet apart on stage. No dancing is allowed.
At a news conference Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan urged Maryland residents to continue wearing masks, avoid travelling to states with high COVID-19 numbers and avoid crowds.
New COVID-19 restrictions in Montgomery County are on hold after the county's council delayed their vote on the proposed executive order until next Tuesday, officials say.
The order, which would restrict indoor activities and limit gatherings, was issued Wednesday by County Executive Marc Elrich, and was expected to be approved by the council Thursday.
"Gathering size will be limited to 25 people," Elrich said. "Capacity will be reduced to 25% for the following types of establishments: fitness centers, food service establishments, museums and art galleries, retail establishments and religious facilities."
Restaurants and bars would be required to collect contact tracing information from customers.
Although the executive order is on hold for now, starting Friday evening, the late night sale of alcohol in the county will be suspended, Montgomery County's security director announced. Restaurants and bars that have been serving alcohol until midnight will have to cut off sales at 10 p.m.
Charles County Public Schools has paused its phase two reopening plan due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the region. In-person learning will not resume until after Jan. 1, the school says.
"We will continue to monitor the data and reassess; however, we will not consider a move to Phase 2 until after the first of the year because of the upcoming holiday season," the school wrote.
Effective Nov. 9, employees who were teleworking under phase one will be permitted to return to telework, the school says, although buildings will remain open for teachers if they choose to work from their classrooms.
In Virginia, coronavirus outbreaks are causing setbacks in school reopenings. According to the Virginia Department of Health's school tracker, at least 10 schools are currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.
Orange Elementary School announced Monday that in-person learning would cease for two weeks starting Wednesday, Nov. 4, due to two confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the community.
In-person instruction for Orange Elementary School students will resume on Monday, Nov. 16, the school wrote on its website.
What the Data Shows
COVID-19 cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are trending upward.
D.C. announced 81 more cases and three more lives lost to the virus on Thursday. The rolling seven-day average was 87 cases on Thursday, 10 cases higher than last week. D.C.'s positivity rate is down slightly to 2.7%.
Maryland recorded 1,198 new COVID-19 infections and a rolling seven-day average of 940 Thursday, both the highest counts recorded since late July. Ten lives were lost in the state. Maryland's positivity rate is also up to 4.21%, up from 2.93% at the beginning of last month.
Virginia recorded 992 new cases and 10 lives lost Thursday. Virginia's seven-day rolling average is at 1,005 cases and the positivity rate is at 5.8%.
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
- D.C.’s health department added California, New Jersey and Oregon to its high-risk list early Monday, bringing the total to 42 states.
- Almost 100 employees at motor vehicle branches around the D.C. area have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Trick-or-treaters got creative on Halloween to keep the holiday safe despite the virus.
- Gov. Ralph Northam addressed rising coronavirus cases in Southwest Virginia at a press conference Wednesday.
- A man who refused to wear a face mask at an early voting site in Maryland was arrested Tuesday and faces misdemeanor charges, officials say.
- 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.
- Montgomery County could roll back reopening after seeing an increase in infections.
- 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.