A new season brings new routines, and it could impact the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute researchers say that virus transmission could increase when children start heading back to in-person school, adults return to work sites or we change our habits as the weather shifts.
In the D.C. area, however, most public school students are starting the year via online learning. Thousands of kids in Northern Virginia start the year virtually on Tuesday, including at Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties' public schools.
Arlington Public Schools reported that students had challenges logging onto classes Tuesday.
Prince William said some schools in the western part of the county were having intermittent trouble with their phone lines.
Arlington County is undertaking a health equity plan that will help beat the pandemic, Public Health Division Director Reuben Varghese said in a statement.
Arlington County schools are set to distribute 11,000 kits to students and their families. The kits will have reusable face coverings, hand sanitizers and information about services in multiple languages.
Under the equity initiative, the county will also expand hours at a COVID-19 testing site at the Arlington Mill Community Center. Starting Sept. 14, the site will open 1-7 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month and 8 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of the month.
Catholic Charities will give out 500 grocery boxes at Prince George’s Community College Culinary Arts Center in Largo, Maryland, starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 11.
Here's where we stand with the virus in D.C., Maryland and Virginia as fall arrives.
What the Data Shows
It remains to be seen if a surge of coronavirus cases could follow the Labor Day weekend holiday. Both Memorial Day and the Fourth of July led to an apparent uptick in cases.
Cases in Maryland are still rising. There has been some volatility in the seven-day average, likely due to reporting fluctuations over Labor Day weekend. Overall, it’s still an upward trend, rising from 545 last week to 625 on Tuesday.
Virginia’s seven-day average is declining a bit, down to 917 average cases now from 945 last week. But again, this could be due to reporting fluctuations over Labor Day weekend.
Signs of new cases declining in Virginia are welcome. Beginning Aug. 21, new case average numbers trended up for about two weeks.
In D.C., hospitalizations are up. Last week, 71 people were hospitalized for COVID-19. On Tuesday, the District reported 85 people hospitalized with the virus
Positivity rates are 7.5% in Virginia, 3.68% in Maryland and 2.8% in D.C.
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
- 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