Maryland, Virginia and 12 other states suing over service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service asked a federal judge to immediately undo some of them, saying the integrity of the upcoming election is at stake as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has already said he's halting some of the changes, including the removal of distinctive blue mailboxes and of sorting machines at some processing facilities. However, two remain in effect, the states argue: that the Postal Service is no longer treating election mail as the equivalent of First Class mail, and the so-called “leave behind” policy, requiring that postal trucks leave at certain times, whether or not there is additional mail to load.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Washington state on Wednesday, the states said that although mail delays have eased since the service cuts first created a national uproar in July, on-time deliveries remain well below their prior levels, meaning millions of pieces of mail that would otherwise arrive on-time no longer are.
That's troubling as millions more voters are expected to vote by mail this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the states said.
The Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. DeJoy has repeatedly insisted that handling ballots is the organization's top priority, and he has warned Americans to request and send back their ballots early to ensure they arrive in time to be counted.
Here's where we stand as the virus continues to change our lives in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
What the Data Shows
D.C. reported 25 more cases of the virus and one more death. A 28-year-old man was the victim, the city said in its daily data release.
Maryland reported 503 more cases and seven more deaths. Virginia reported 1,131 more cases and 11 more deaths.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases stood about steady in D.C. and Virginia, and dropped in Maryland.
The map below shows the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed per 1,000 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
- Some D.C. Public Schools students could be back in the classroom as early as this month, the mayor said. Read more
- Up to 25,000 low-income students and families in D.C. are set to be provided free internet connections under a new initiative from Mayor Muriel Bowser. Here's what to know.
- What can sewage tell us about COVID-19 in our communities? Stafford County, Virginia, provides an example.
- Washington, D.C., has released an updated list of states that are considered “high risk” during the coronavirus pandemic and subject to travel restrictions. Here's the list.
- Dozens of University of Maryland students have tested positive for COVID-19 since the fall semester began last week and a limited number of students moved on campus. Read more.
- Before the school year starts online, Trinity United Methodist Church in Alexandria held an outdoor “blessing of the Chromebooks.” See video here.
- Maryland entered phase three of reopening Friday, but several counties say they aren't prepared to move forward yet. Read more.
- Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been targeted by scammers during the pandemic, likely including one family who had a strange experience after listing their home for sale. Read the News4 I-Team report.
- Virginia lawmakers gave final approval Friday to legislation aimed at making absentee voting easier. Here's what to know.
- Public tours of the White House, halted nearly six months ago due to the coronavirus outbreak, are set to resume later this month with new health and safety policies in place. Read more.
- People collecting unemployment insurance in the D.C. region soon will begin seeing the extra $300 President Donald Trump promised — some sooner than others. Read more.
- D.C. Public Schools are seeing a 70% drop in vaccinations among students. Here's more information.
- James Madison University will move primarily to online learning after hundreds of students were diagnosed with COVID-19 less than two weeks after students returned to campus. Read more.
- Dozens of inmates at a West Virginia prison have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials said. Read more.
- Arlington County police have begun enforcing social distancing in the nightlife area of Clarendon. Read more.
- Montgomery and Prince George's counties are among those that won't enter phase three with the state of Maryland. Here's a roundup of counties in our area.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he has 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 have both affirmed that they are not altering plans to host classes online throughout the first half of the school year.
- Private and parochial schools in Maryland can choose when to reopen after a back-and-forth between county health officials and the governor. Read more.
- 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 on July 1, loosening restrictions on restaurants, stores, gyms and pools. Northam has said more restrictions could be implemented if cases continue to grow.
- Prince George's County entered full phase two on June 23, allowing the MGM Casino and gyms to reopen.
- D.C. entered phase two on June 22, allowing indoor dining, gyms, libraries and houses of worship to reopen with restrictions.
- Montgomery County entered phase two on 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.
Sophia Barnes, Andrea Swalec and Anisa Holmes contributed to this report
Coronavirus Deaths in Your City and State — and Across the US
These charts use daily coronavirus death data from Johns Hopkins University to show the seven-day moving average of deaths at the city, state and country level.
The impact of coronavirus varies enormously in the United States from one place to another.
Source: Johns Hopkins University.
Credit: Visuals by Amy O’Kruk/NBC, data analysis by Ron Campbell/NBC