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Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia: What to Know on Feb. 22

As of Sunday, COVID-19 has killed 500,000 Americans. President Joe Biden will hold a moment of silence Monday evening to commemorate the countless lives lost and mark a new chapter in the nation’s battle against the coronavirus. 

For perspective, 500,000 is about the same as the entire population of Atlanta or Sacramento.

It’s also more than double the number of Americans killed in battle during World War II. And just like families of the nation’s deceased veterans, loved ones of coronavirus victims are left feeling confused and deeply saddened. 

After a year of virtual learning, students will need to adjust to the classroom again.

News4 checked in with public school officials at D.C., Prince George’s, Loudoun, Fairfax and Montgomery Counties about which school supplies will be needed for students in classroom during the new era of COVID-19. They said the key supplies include a well-fitting mask, hand sanitizer, a reusable water bottle and personal school supplies, since sharing is discouraged.

Most school districts are also requesting parents do a daily health assessment for their kids. If a child has COVID-19 symptoms or has been in close contact with someone who tested positive, they should stay home.

DCPS will conduct temperature checks upon arrival to school, but Fairfax and Montgomery County will not. Loudoun County has thermal cameras at all their schools.

We checked with several D.C.-area school districts as more students get ready to return to the classroom.

Fauquier County Public Schools plan to adopt an aggressive new in-person learning plan which would shift lessons from the current two days a week to four days a week by mid-March.

The school board will be asked to sign off on the plan Monday night with at least 80% of families indicating they want to do in-person learning. The new plan would also mean a change from 6 ft distance to 3 ft distance for desks.

Fauquier County’s superintendent has made it clear the virtual learning will become less robust as teachers turn more attention to students in the room.  

Maryland’s governor flagged progress in the fight against COVID-19 on Sunday. 

The number of people with the virus who were hospitalized dropped below 1,000 for the first time since mid-November, Gov. Larry Hogan’s office said and the data shows. As of Sunday, 973 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized. 

“Our vaccination rate is rising, our hospitalizations and key metrics are all declining, and with each day we are moving one step closer to eliminating and eradicating this pandemic,” Hogan said in a statement. “This is more good news, but we need to remain vigilant, and keep doing the things that keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe.”

More than 1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state, representing more than 97% of all first doses received from the federal government. An average of more than 27,000 people are being vaccinated every day.

The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.

The Maryland Department of Health brought its mobile unit to Prince George’s County as part of their GoVAX outreach campaign.

The truck has informational banners on it and broadcasts prevention and vaccination messages in Spanish and English.

Volunteers will also distribute flyers and provide free face masks, starting in the Hyattsville zip code 20783.

Dr. Mark Martin, the Deputy Director of the MDH Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, said people would fan out in the community to lay the groundwork now to convince people to get shots once they are available.

Northern Virginia continues to open its schools for in-person learning, but some parents say their students’ needs are different. News4’s Drew Wilder reports on parents weighing their options.

Walgreens will begin sending vaccines to some of its Virginia locations next week.

Starting Thursday, Walgreens will get 480,000 weekly doses as part of the federal pharmacy program. It’s unclear exactly how many of those will go to Virginia or when appointments can be booked at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine. Select stores in Maryland and West Virginia have already been giving out the vaccine.

D.C. announced 107 more cases and no additional deaths Monday.

Maryland announced 611 more cases and 17 lives lost.

Virginia announced 834 more cases and 125 more deaths. 

After weeks of consistent decline, the region’s seven-day averages are flattening, and in Virginia’s case, increasing slightly, as of Monday.

Virginia’s seven-day average is up by 69 cases to 1,340. D.C.’s average is up by three cases to 108 and Maryland’s is down by five cases to 752.

Hospitalizations remain at stable levels.

As vaccinations in our region ramp up, here’s a look at local portals residents can use to sign up for vaccination appointments or sign up to receive alerts.

Although COVID-19 treatments have improved and a vaccine is on the way, even a mild case of the virus can cause long-term complications — including the possibility of erectile dysfunction. Infectious disease expert Dr. Dena Grayson joined LX News with a warning not to let our guards down as we wait for a vaccine.

Anyone can get COVID-19. Here are three simple ways the CDC says you can lower your risk: 

  • 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.

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