Are you ready for some football? The kickoff of the NFL season illustrates the nation’s determination to resume its most popular sport in the middle of a pandemic that has already killed nearly 200,000 Americans.
While Major League Baseball and the NBA have played without fans, the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs were allowed to open the season on Thursday against the Houston Texans at 22% capacity. The remainder of the NFL teams start their seasons Sunday, including the Washington Football Team.
For football-obsessed fans, the start of the season is a relief after being cooped up for months — an opportunity to gather with friends at bars, go to games and tailgate parties or head to sportsbooks to place bets.
With each of these gatherings comes a greater health risk. Watching football on TV can be done safely and is a welcome way “to go back to normal things in our lives that we love and enjoy,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.
For players, coaches and fans who venture into stadiums, a safe season hinges on what else people are willing to give up to lower the case numbers and control the level of community spread that could breed problems.
“If we want to enjoy our football, we have to sacrifice, or let go of certain things we used to do before — such as bars and crowded restaurants and places like this where we know infection is more likely to happen,” Mokdad said.
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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 40 more cases of the virus and no additional deaths. The rolling daily average of new cases stands steady.
Maryland reported 577 more cases. Two more people died. The rolling daily average of new cases rose.
Virginia reported 822 more cases and two more deaths. The rolling daily average was lower than it’s been recently.
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
- Gov. Larry Hogan says that the state will be the first member of a multistate coalition to purchase a large amount of rapid COVID-19 antigen tests. Read more.
- 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 but the leaders of several counties said they weren'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 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.
- 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