Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Oct. 28

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

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Voters in D.C. and Maryland continue to flood to the polls in record numbers, but not without incident.

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.

Daniel Swain, 52, was charged with trespassing and failure to comply with a health emergency after an incident in Jarrettsville, about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.

Election officials said Swain, of Fallston, and another man refused to wear face masks or vote in a designated area for people who are unable or unwilling to wear masks. 

Polling sites are subject to rules set by the Board of Elections and Gov. Larry Hogan. Election judges may choose to have someone removed from a polling place, the sheriff’s office said. Swain was not banned from the polling site and is still able to cast his ballot.

This morning, a polling station at Anacostia Sr. High School and surrounding streets were shut down while the D.C. Police Department investigated a suspicious package on the sidewalk.

As of 9:30 am, the D.C. Board of Elections announced the center would be back up and running for early in-person voting starting at 10 a.m.

Others reported varying wait times at early voting centers in D.C. – anywhere from five minutes to over 90 minutes.

While the U.S. Postal Service works to improve on-time delivery across the country, a new report shows a major slowdown in the D.C. area and the second-worst on-time delivery in the nation. The News4 I-Team has been working with NBC stations around the country to track the speed of mail delivery for months leading up to the election. Investigative Reporter Jodie Fleischer has more on what they found and what it could mean for your mailed ballot.

Virginia will allocate an additional $30 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support small businesses, Gov. Ralph Northam announced at a press conference Wednesday.

Northam also addressed rising coronavirus cases in the state.

Cases in the Southwest region in particular have increased over the past two weeks, Virginia data shows. The percent positivity in Southwest Virginia is now just under 8%, over twice the level in other regions, Northam said. 

An additional $20 million in funding has been made available for Maryland’s small businesses through an expansion of the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, Maryland's Department of Labor announced today.

The additional $20 million expands the total Layoff Aversion Fund to $30 million.

The governor previously announced the expansion of financial relief last Thursday. Since then, the Maryland Labor Department has reached out to all 130 small businesses who had submitted an application but did not receive funding due to the initial fund being depleted.

Seven of these priority applicants have now been approved while 20 more remain under review. 

The U.S. averaged 71,000 new cases per day over the past week – the most in any seven-day stretch since the onset of the crisis.

Our region has not gone untouched by the new surge. Yesterday, D.C. reported a hospitalization count not seen since late July.

Maryland reported its highest hospitalization count since mid-August. Maryland's seven-day average of new daily infections is currently at 741 cases – that's more than 200 additional cases compared to the beginning of October.

Cases have also grown in Virginia. Virginia's seven-day average on the first of this month was 649 cases. Today, an average of 901 daily cases are being reported.

Virginia's governor is expected to make an announcement today addressing the rise in cases and hospitalizations in the state.

Meanwhile, public health departments across the U.S. are making preparations for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine ahead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Nov. 1 deadline.

So far, the Department of Health and Human Services has provided $340 million for COVID-19 vaccine and flu planning, but state health officials are asking for billions more to distribute the vaccine.

The director of Operation Warp Speed says a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for review as early as November. News4's Cory Smith explains what it will take to get a safe and effective vaccine across the finish line.

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

What the Data Shows

Another 67 cases of COVID-19 were reported in D.C., officials said Wednesday.

In Maryland, another 684 cases of the virus and seven more deaths were announced Wednesday. The rolling seven-day average of cases was 741, the highest it’s been since early August. 

Virginia reported 969 cases and 14 additional deaths. The rolling seven-day average of cases was 901, which is about steady compared to what the state has seen over the past two weeks.

Hospitalizations across the region are high. D.C. reported 106 hospitalizations yesterday, the highest count since late July. In Maryland, 501 people are hospitalized Wednesday, the highest count since early August. Virginia reported 746 hospitalizations Tuesday, the highest figure since early September.

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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