As Washington, D.C., opened early voting centers Tuesday, we again saw how the pandemic is changing election season.
A long line outside Capital One Arena, a super voting center intended to accommodate larger crowds, showed voters who were eager to cast their ballots as soon as possible.
Many of D.C.’s 32 early voting centers reported wait times of fewer than 5 minutes, but several lines stretched over 90 minutes.
When Maryland began in-person early voting on Monday, a record number of voters turned out. More than 161,000 people cast their ballots on Monday, the highest one-day early voting total ever in the state, officials said.
A recent poll in Virginia finds most people in the state feel that curbing the spread of the coronavirus is more important than removing restrictions to get the economy going.
The Hampton University-Associated Press poll finds that more than 60% of Virginians think the biggest priority for the community is preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Close to nine in 10 Democrats favored coronavirus restrictions while about seven in 10 Republicans emphasized reopening the economy.
Many families in our area are waking up to new routines.
Stafford County is bringing back some students Tuesday under a hybrid model. Students will be put into groups that will go to school buildings two days a week.
In Loudoun County, part-time in-person learning also begins for students in Kindergarten, first grade and second grade.
American University is preparing to welcome more students back to campus next semester. Most classes will continue to be virtual, but some in-person classes will expand.
The university will also increase the number of students who will be allowed to live on campus.
Going to work and living with a COVID-19 patient are both linked to spreading coronavirus infections, data from Alexandria, Virginia, shows.
Alexandria's Health Department interviewed more than 400 people who were recently infected and found that one-fourth of them had been in their workplaces within two weeks of feeling sick.
Over one-third lived with someone who had recently had it.
About 10% had gone to a public event, social gathering or entertainment activity, most of which were indoors.
About 7% of people said they recently traveled outside of the D.C. area or had gone to a restaurant or bar.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan would like to see students back in the classroom as soon as possible, but teachers in the state have created a list of safety protocols they want to see before returning to school.
The Maryland State Education Association surveyed teachers and says at least 90% supported the following safety measures:
- Daily sanitation of school buildings
- Access to hand sanitizer
- Adequate air ventilation
- Procedures for handling positive cases and contact tracing
- Personal protective equipment for all students and staff
- Reduced class sizes for social distancing
- Plexiglass barriers in shared office spaces
- Additional mental health staff
The group's president says school districts want uniformity across the state for how to handle and report positive cases.
State Superintendent Karen Salmon is urging Maryland school districts to bring students back to the classroom. Salmon also says the necessary health guidance is available to local school systems and that the state stands ready to work with them.
Here's where we stand as the coronavirus continues to change our lives in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
What the Data Shows
Another 94 cases of COVID-19 were reported in D.C., officials said Tuesday. Two people died from the disease, breaking a one-week streak in which the District didn't report a death from coronavirus.
In Maryland, another 897 cases of the virus and nine more deaths were announced Tuesday. The rolling seven-day average of cases was 714, the highest it’s been since mid-August.
Virginia reported 912 cases and 19 additional deaths. The rolling seven-day average of cases was 875, which is about steady compared to what the state has seen over the past two weeks.
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
- Maryland and Virginia released plans on Tuesday 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 to 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.
- Five employees of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration tested positive for COVID-19 and one of them has died, officials say.
- The Fauquier County School Board expects 71% of its students back in classrooms as part of a hybrid learning plan starting Nov. 9.
- Child care capacity is expanding in Maryland under phase three, although Montgomery and Prince George's counties opted to remain at current operating levels.
- Gym goers in Arlington, Virginia, will soon take spin classes on an open air training terrace instead of peddling away indoors. Take a look at how it works.
- D.C. updated its list of states subject to travel restrictions because they're considered high risk due to coronavirus. The next updated list is set to be released Monday, Oct. 19.
- D.C. plans to have high school sports return in January.
- 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.