Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Sept. 2

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

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With the Labor Day holiday weekend coming up, leaders from governors to the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, are pleading for the public to observe social distancing, wear masks and be aware of the continuing threat of coronavirus.

“Large gatherings are still not a good idea,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday. “This virus is still alive and well around the commonwealth of Virginia."

Right now, the situation in Virginia is declining. The moving average of cases has trended upwards for nearly two weeks, since Aug. 21.

A chunk of those cases are tied to colleges. 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.

The university says 601 cases are active there and more than 16% of coronavirus tests from the student health center are coming back positive. For reference, Virginia's statewide goal is to keep that number under 10%. Maryland and D.C.'s jurisdiction-wide goal is under 5%.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, however, says the state is ready to move into phase three of reopening at 5 p.m. Friday, in the nick of time for the holiday.

Movie theaters and outdoor performance venues will be able to reopen for the first time since March. Retail and religious establishments can also increase capacity.

Not all counties will follow suit. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich says the county isn't ready yet. Officials from Prince George's, the Maryland county hardest-hit by coronavirus, are expected to give an update later this week.

What the Data Shows

D.C. and Maryland are faring better than Virginia when it comes to the most-referenced coronavirus metrics.

The District is consistently meeting many of its key metrics. The city can carry out contact tracing on nearly every case and their close contacts in a short time span. Hospital utilization has been under the goal, 80%, for more than two weeks.

Community spread is one metric that is worsening. The city’s goal is to see the number of COVID-19 infections from the community decline; however, community spread is increasing.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan cited the state's low positivity rate (3.36%) in his decision to reopen.

Maryland’s seven-day average of new cases has been trending down, but that is still a metric to watch. That number increased on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Virginia's cases are in a solid upward trend and are the highest they have been in nearly three weeks. Northam characterized this as a slight increase and said the state will continue to keep an eye on it.

Northam said Virginia's positivity rate hovering around 7% shows the state is doing fairly well in containing the virus. While that number does satisfy Virginia’s goal, D.C. and Maryland have both set a lower goal – 5% – and are achieving it.

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

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

Local Coronavirus Headlines

  • 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 that 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.
  • Ocean City is postponing plans to re-deck its iconic boardwalk because of a lumber shortage caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Read more.
  • Arlington County police have begun enforcing social distancing in the nightlife area of Clarendon. Read more.
  • D.C.'s Department of Health put out an updated list of high-risk states with travel restrictions Thursday, and Delaware is no longer on the list. Read more.

Reopening Tracker

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.

Sophia Barnes, Andrea Swalec and Anisa Holmes contributed to this report

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