D.C. Region Hits 1 Million Recorded COVID-19 Cases With Miles To Go Nearly 17,500 of those people have died.
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D.C. Region Hits 1 Million Recorded COVID-19 Cases With Miles To Go

Mar 18, 2020. Virginia Hospital Center set up a collection spot in Arlington for people to get tested for COVID-19. Tyrone Turner/WAMU/DCist hide caption

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Tyrone Turner/WAMU/DCist

The D.C. region has now recorded more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, a grim milestone that comes about a year after the first local cases of the coronavirus were detected in early March 2020.

Of those 1 million people, 577,174 live in Virginia, 382,702 live in Maryland and 40,684 live in the District.

Nearly 17,500 of those people have died, including 8,783 Virginians, 7,697 Marylanders, and 1,019 Washingtonians. The bulk of those deaths occurred in the past three months: The region recorded 10,000 deaths in early December.

The United States has recorded more than 28 million COVID-19 cases nationwide, and 510,777 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The burden of sickness and death has not been equally shared, nationally or in the D.C. region. People of color, especially Black people, have borne the brunt of the disease and its consequences.

In D.C., Black people account for 49% of the District's coronavirus cases and 75% of its deaths, despite representing less than half of the total population. Black Virginians make up 21% of the commonwealth's cases and more than 23% of its deaths. In Maryland, 109,768 African-Americans have tested positive for the disease, and 2,646 have died.

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Some coronavirus costs are harder to quantify: forced isolation from family and community, grinding stress and fear, the deep exhaustion of health care providers and essential workers on the front lines.

That toll in lives affected and lost came to a head over the holidays, at the height of the region's worst surge since the pandemic began. At the beginning of January, Virginia recorded an average of nearly 6,000 new COVID-19 cases daily a little less than six times its daily case rate in the first surge of the virus, in the spring. D.C. and Maryland, too, experienced a similar pattern: graphs of new cases were hills in the spring, mountains this winter.

All of that added up to 1 million people sick over a year. Now, the pandemic in the D.C. region is settling into a new stage, characterized by a hopeful downward slope of new cases and deaths despite an often chaotic scramble to deploy vaccines along with the threat of ominous new strains of the virus on the horizon.

But local leaders are striking a note of cautious optimism these days, and some are taking some modest steps to roll back restrictions on gathering. There is cause for hope: The number of people who've been fully or partially vaccinated in the region has been growing steadily. Virginia has vaccinated almost 1.3 million people with at least one shot, or 15.2% of its population. Maryland has vaccinated nearly 859,000 people with a first dose, and just over 474,000 with a second. In D.C., 9.3% of residents are partially or fully vaccinated.

There are concerning signs, too, and reminders that the 1 million cases milestone is just that: a milestone, with months of road still left ahead.

The District's daily case rate is currently 19.3 per 100,000 people, which puts it in the red zone of D.C.'s reopening metrics. In Virginia, the rate of positive tests is 7%, which is above the 5% threshold public health experts consider "too high" a rate of community spread.

This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.

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