Coronavirus update: As area cases top 8,000, DC to take more emergency action

An electronic message sign above the Capital Beltway in Maryland urges drivers to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

The latest

  • The total number of COVID-19 cases in the region has topped 8,000.
  • More first responders around the area have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
  • In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced a governmentwide hiring and pay freeze. Meanwhile, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said a bill to be voted on by the council Tuesday will have a number of new emergency provisions, including a rent freeze and a provision that businesses with between 50 and 500 workers must provide paid sick time.
  • Drive-thru coronavirus testing has begun at the George Washington University Hospital.
  • Another resident of a nursing home in Mount Airy, Maryland, has died.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Health officials say that if you have these symptoms, you should call your doctor. Don’t just show up. Medical facilities need to get ready for you. If you don’t have a doctor and you live in D.C. or the nearby Maryland suburbs, D.C.’s mayor recommends calling Mary’s Center at 844-796-2797. If you live in Virginia, call 211.


Positive cases among first responders continue to rise; Montgomery Co. school, corrections employees test positive

Two more D.C. Fire and EMS members have tested positive for COVID-19, the fire chief said in a statement Monday.

Fire Chief Gregory Dean said the two brought the total number of people in the fire department who have tested positive to 34, seven of whom have recovered and returned to work.

In Loudoun County, Virginia, a member of the Combine Fire and Rescue System, who transported a COVID-19 patient on Saturday, has now tested positive, according to a statement from the department on Monday. One positive member is in isolation, and 13 additional members are quarantined, so far.

In Prince George’s County, Maryland, the sheriff’s office said on Monday that two deputies had tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two days.

One deputy tested positive on Sunday and is quarantining at home, the office said in a statement. Four other deputies and four civilian workers at the department are in self-isolation as well.

On Monday, another deputy tested positive, the office said. The county health department saw no need for anyone else to self-isolate, the sheriff’s office said.

A staff member of the Montgomery County Department of Corrections in Maryland has tested positive for COVID-19. The patient last worked at a correctional facility in Boyds on March 26.

Staff who have been in contact with the patient are in quarantine, the county said in a statement. Inmates who had contact with the patient are receiving daily temperature checks.

And, two Montgomery County, Maryland, public school food and nutrition services staff members have tested positive, according to a news release from the county on Monday.

Health officials believe they last worked at the Glen Haven Elementary School meal distribution site on March 26, and neither one was showing symptoms at the time. The risk to the community is low, but those who visited the site before March 26 are asked to self-monitor for symptoms.

Some DC-area residents urged to limit what they throw away

The amount of residential trash picked up from Arlington County, Virginia, Fairfax County and the city of Alexandria has increased as much as 40 percent since mid-March, prompting officials to urge residents to avoid excess trash.

While it may seem like an opportune time to clean around the house, projects producing large amounts of trash should be temporarily avoided, local leaders said.

Starting April 13, any trash in those areas placed outside of a city-issued trash cart won’t be collected.

The latest information about trash collection can be found online.


More Coronavirus News


Va. Gov. Northam: Social distancing needs to continue

Amid a nationwide shortage of critical medical equipment, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said at a briefing Monday that his administration has signed a $27 million contract with a Virginia-based logistics company to provide personal protective equipment, or PPE, to the state’s front-line health care workers.

Under the contract with Northfield, Northam said he is expecting the first shipment of PPE from Asia to arrive next Monday.

In addition, Virginia has signed a contract with a company called SDS Trucking to handle logistics and distribution, Northam said.

“We’ve been able to identify what we believe to be a very reliable supply chain and so a substantial purchase has been made,” said Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security.

The incoming shipments of equipment will include N95 masks — the most effective masks to protect health care workers against the virus — as well as gloves and gowns.

Moran said the state has been “woefully short” of PPE. “Numerous requests have been made of the Strategic National Stockpile and we’ve received a mere fraction of what was requested. So, like other states, we have had to go to the market to find suppliers,” he said.

He said the current contract will be the first of what is expected to be many purchases.

“The purchase has been made; we made it with alacrity, but we’re going to need additional supplies,” Moran said.

Overall, nearly a dozen hospitals in Virginia anticipate experiencing difficulty in obtaining or replenishing PPE in the next 72 hours, according to data maintained by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Northam also said that he “did not see the crowds at our beaches and at our state parks” over the past weekend that he had seen during the previous one, but reminded residents that “in the weeks to come, we cannot relax.”

Noting that about half of the state’s cases involved people under 50, Northam continued to call on people to practice social distancing as the best way to combat the virus.

Referring to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling on Americans to wear cloth masks when they go out in public, Northam displayed a mask he said was his, manufactured by the Department of Corrections. He did not wear it while talking with reporters, saying he would wear it when he was out in public.

The governor also said that contracts would be signed this week for emergency field hospitals at the Dulles Expo Center, the Hampton Convention Center and the Richmond Convention Center. They should be up and running in about six weeks, he added.

Virginia’s health officer, Dr. Norman Oliver, said local health departments are working with nursing homes and long-term care facilities to isolate cases when they pop up.

“If you don’t get on that very soon, it’s a population where the infection can spread.” He spoke on the same day that the death count at the Canterbury Rehabilition & Healthcare Center, in Henrico County, rose to 28, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Asked about revised models of the spread of the virus that showed more spread in southwest Virginia, as well as a surge in infections coming around April 20, earlier than previous models, Northam said, “There are various models. They change literally every day depending on the data that is put into them. And so we haven’t made any adjustments by what we’re seeing. We will certainly continue to follow the trends.”

Cases in the region top 8,000

As of 10:30 a.m., the total number of COVID-19 cases has topped 8,000, with 2,878 cases in Virginia; 4,045 in Maryland; and 1,097 in D.C.

In Virginia, 54 people have died from the virus; 91 patients have died in Maryland, up 24 from Sunday; and 24 have died in D.C.

Meanwhile, 184 patients have been released from isolation in Maryland, and 287 have recovered in D.C. (Virginia does not release numbers on recovered patients.)

Emergency measures announced for DC

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday announced a governmentwide hiring and pay freeze. The mayor’s order freezes hiring, salary increases and travel for D.C. government agencies. Exceptions will be limited to coronavirus response efforts, public safety and school staffing.

Bowser also said that the economic impact of the health emergency would cause the District to cut more than $600 million from next fiscal year’s budget — about the amount of money spent on the fire department.

Meanwhile, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said a bill to be voted on by the council Tuesday will have a number of new emergency provisions, including a rent freeze and a provision that businesses with between 50 and 500 workers must provide paid sick time.

Bowser said closing The Wharf’s seafood market in Southwest D.C. over the weekend was necessary, “because the social distancing requirements weren’t being met.”

She said District officials are working with vendors and the manager of the fish market “to see if we can come to some kind of agreement … We haven’t got there yet.”

The mayor said she has directed her food policy team to look at all food markets across the city “to make sure that we understand their plans to focus on essential food delivery, not other items, and making sure that people can get in and out of the market.”

She said there would be regular enforcement.

Bowser added that her “great hope” is for schools to resume before the end of the school year, but “we’re not close to doing that.”

Asked whether the police were doing enough to break up large gatherings of people, Bowser bristled and said that people had to take responsibility for their own actions.

“It’s everybody’s individual responsibility to do what they know they need to do for themselves, their family and this community,” Bowser said. “If we expect the police department to be able to make every single person do what they know what they’re supposed to do, we’re going to be disappointed. … We need the public’s assistance here. And we also need business owners who … have been deemed essential: If you’re getting lax in how you’re implementing your operations, you will be shut down.”

Another death at Carroll Co. nursing home; death toll at Va. long-term care facility rises to 28 

Another resident of the Pleasant View Nursing Home, in Carroll County, Maryland, died on Sunday, bringing the toll from COVID-19 at the nursing home to 10. Three more members of the staff have also tested positive, a spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday evening, bringing the total among the staff to 27.

Meanwhile, five more residents of the Carroll Lutheran Village, also in Carroll County, have tested positive.

The Carroll County Health Department reported Monday that four additional patients from the Pleasant View Nursing Home died due to COVID-19: two women in their 60s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 80s. Four additional staff have also tested positive bringing the facility’s total to 31 staff who have tested positive.

At the Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico County, Virginia, eight more residents who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, bringing the death toll amid the outbreak to 28, The Associated Press reported.

Health officials tested every resident last week due to the scope of the outbreak. The testing showed roughly two-thirds of the residents had the virus, and while some were sick, many weren’t showing symptoms. The outbreak is one of the worst in the U.S. at a long-term care facility.

Arlington County revised budget to focus on essential services, critical needs

Arlington County, Virginia’s, revised FY 2021 proposed budget will focus on core essential services of government, retaining the existing workforce and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a presentation Monday by county Manager Mark Schwartz.

“What was unthinkable two months ago is now in front of us,” Schwartz said in a statement. “Businesses have laid off staff, residents have lost jobs, schools have closed and only the most essential functions continue.”

The county is estimates a nearly $56 million drop in anticipated revenue for the next fiscal year — $34 million on the county side and 21.6 million for Arlington Public Schools.

On the chopping board under the revised budget are salary increases and several projects, including the opening of the Lubber Run Community Center and the Long Bridge Park Fitness and Aquatics Center.

The budget also aims to provide funds related to the COVID-19 response, such as housing grants, permanent supportive housing, emergency needs, as well as assistance to small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The Arlington County board is expected to vote on the revised budget on April 30. A public hearing has been scheduled on April 23 at 7 p.m.

Drive-thru testing at GWU

Drive-thru testing for COVID-19 began Monday at George Washington University.

Appointments are available Mondays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; walk-up appointments are at 22nd and I streets in Northwest, and people in their cars can enter at 22nd and H streets.

A patient needs an appointment and a referral from their doctor.

If you want a video or phone consultation with a George Washington University doctor, call 202-741-2765 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you have a doctor, they can get you a referral at GWU’s testing website, which is also where you can go for more information.

 

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2012 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He went to George Washington University as an undergraduate and is regularly surprised at the changes to the city since that faraway time.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up