Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Oct. 20

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

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Mayor Muriel Bowser is urging D.C. residents who use iPhone or Android smartphones to opt-in to a new app that helps fight the spread of COVID-19.

The app, called DC CAN, uses an alert notification system to inform its users if they've been exposed to the virus. Here's how it works. D.C. residents will be getting alerts on their smartphones Tuesday, asking them to sign up.

“We are encouraging all District residents, and those who spend time in the District, to opt into DC CAN,” Mayor Bowser wrote in a statement. “Using the DC CAN system is a quick and easy way to know if you might have been exposed to COVID-19.”

Other states, including Virginia, have already rolled out apps that can tell you if you've come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, but the different apps in different states don't all communicate with each other.

Maryland released a plan Monday on how it will distribute and administer a COVID-19 vaccine when it become available.

The plan focuses on two major phases. Phase 1 will focus on priority groups including first responders, healthcare workers, staff and residents of nursing homes and some essential workers. Phase 2 will include the general population but will depend on supply levels of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The state's plan has been submitted to the CDC.

Coronavirus testing rates have dropped in several states where cases are increasing, an NBC News analysis found.

The NBC News analysis of COVID Tracking Project data found testing rates have fallen in Kentucky, Nevada, Iowa, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Arkansas, even though cases have been rising.

Kentucky has the most dramatic disparity – cases have risen 35% in the last two weeks, but testing rates have fallen 38% during the same period.

The D.C. region, however, is doing well when it comes to testing. According to NBC News, testing in the District of Columbia has increased by 23% in the past two weeks. In Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, testing rates have increased by 6%, 3% and 31%, respectively.

Japanese researchers used a supercomputer to examine how particles spread when sitting at a table.

Here's where we stand as the coronavirus continues to change our lives in D.C., Maryland and Virginia:

What the Data Shows

D.C. reported a seven-day case average of 54, remaining in line with numbers reported during the past week. Virginia reported a seven-day average of 837 – down from 910 last week. Maryland's seven-day average, however, is up to 629, the largest number reported in a month.

Hospitalizations are also particularly high in Maryland and Virginia. In Maryland, 464 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number reported since mid-August. In Virginia, 688 people are hospitalized. D.C. is reporting 85 hospitalizations.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia reported positivity rates of 2%, 3.14% and 4.8%, respectively, on Tuesday.

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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