D.C. reported 201 new cases on Friday, while daily death counts continue to spike in Maryland.
D.C. reported 201 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the fourth time in less than two weeks that the city has seen its daily case count tip past 200.
On Thanksgiving, the District saw 220 new coronavirus cases, one of the highest daily case counts ever recorded during the pandemic. This came a little over a week after the city reported 245 new cases, the second-highest total ever recorded in the District.
The consecutive 200-plus daily case counts follow a week of increased testing demand ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, newly announced restrictions on gyms and restaurants from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and pleas from local officials for residents to reduce travel over the holiday, in hopes of mitigating the effects of what could be the worst to come in the region's fight against the coronavirus.
On Friday, the seven-day average daily case count per 100,000 residents dipped to 21.52, per data recorded on Nov. 25. The figure hit a fall peak earlier this week at 24.93; the last time it topped 25 cases per 100,000 residents was May 9.
The city's rate of transmission, a metric that measures the number of infections likely to result from one positive case — and a significant indicator of a region's community spread — also dropped back to a moderate level (1.0), per Friday's data. This metric hit a troubling peak earlier this month when it reached 1.30 — a rate not recorded since March.
D.C.'s positivity rate, which measures the number of positive cases out of total tests administered, continues to tick up, despite a surge in testing. On Friday, the city recorded a positivity rate of 5.4%, the highest rate since mid-June. (The World Health Organization recommends a positivity rate below 5% for reopening measures.)
D.C.'s acute care hospitalization rate has remained within the moderate range (between 80% and 90% capacity) throughout most of the fall. On Nov. 13, this metric surpassed the 90% benchmark for the first time in the pandemic, but in the days following dipped down between 79% and 86%. Friday's data reflects an acute bed capacity of 83.5%.
Since the beginning of November, 31 D.C. residents have lost their lives to COVID-19, according to District data. This marks a notable jump from the total deaths recorded in the earlier months of fall and in late summer.
Courtesy of/D.C. Health
D.C.'s daily case rate per 100,000 residents has hit spring-like levels in recent weeks.
Courtesy of/D.C. Health
Regionally, Maryland has surpassed D.C.'s daily case count per 100,000 residents after staying behind the city for the past several weeks, according to the Washington Post's regional coronavirus tracker. The state recorded 2,378 new cases on Friday, the fourth highest daily total ever recorded in the pandemic. On Nov. 19, the state recorded an all-time high of 2,910 new cases.
Yet the state has seen its positivity rate dip down in recent days — reporting a rate of 6.3% on Friday after hitting a rate above 7% earlier this week. The state had kept that metric below 5% for much of the summer and fall, and even dropped below 3% in parts of September and October.
Hospitalizations have increased at an alarming rate in Maryland, consistently trending upward since the end of October. On Friday, 1,435 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest count since May 18. And daily death counts, which had remained well below 14 throughout most of September and October, have surpassed 20 in four of the past seven days. The state reported two deaths on Friday.
Cases have spiked notably in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, two of the most populous jurisdictions in the state, and those hardest-hit by the virus over the past eight months. On Friday, Montgomery County recorded a daily case rate per 100,000 residents of 26.66 — below the state-wide daily rate of 37.21, but still higher than the county's rate during the spring. The jurisdiction's positivity rate also remains below the state's average of 6.3%, at 4.5%. Meanwhile, Prince George's County's positivity rate, which has consistently surpassed the state's rate for a majority of the pandemic, reached 8.33% on Friday — a number not seen in the county since June. The county's positive case rate per 100,000 residents also reached 39.5 for the first time during the pandemic on Friday.
Virginia, which has consistently maintained lower case counts per 100,000 residents than D.C. and Maryland, recorded an all-time-high daily case count on Nov. 23, with 3,242 new cases. While the commonwealth reported 1,544 new cases on Friday, the state's positivity rate continues to remain above 7%. Northern Virginia, a hotspot in the state, recorded a seven-day average of 752 daily cases on Friday. The region saw a record-breaking 1,090 new cases on Wednesday.
Like in Maryland, hospitalizations in Virginia have been steadily increasing to spring-like numbers over the past month. On Friday, a total of 1,593 people were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19 — the highest total since May 9.
Officials across the region have clamped down on reopening measures in recent weeks as cases continue to climb upward. Earlier this month Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) set new restrictions on restaurants, limiting indoor dining capacity from 75% to 50%. He later mandated that restaurants close at 10 p.m., and limited capacity in all retail businesses (including grocery stores) and knocking the cap capacity in religious institutions down to 50% from 75%.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) also announced announced a slew of new COVID-19 restrictions: limiting public and private gatherings, both indoors or outdoors, from 250 to 25 people, prohibiting alcohol sales past 10 p.m., and expanding the mask mandate to include children over the age of five. And most recently, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced "adjustments" to the city's Phase Two reopening measures, limiting indoor gatherings from 50 to 10 people, suspending indoor workout classes, and stopping alcohol sales at restaurants at 10 p.m., among other restrictions.
Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, epidemiologists and public health experts have warned that the worst could be yet to come for the country's fight against the virus. Regional leaders, meanwhile, are preparing for a dark winter. In D.C., officials expanded testing site hours and added a new, semi-heated location. In Maryland, the health department activated its hospital surge capacity plan, and Northam announced plans for a more robust and centralized testing operation in the commonwealth.