DC area must remain vigilant as coronavirus numbers fall, expert says

As coronavirus numbers surge elsewhere in the U.S., the D.C. region has been making steady progress, according to the latest information from local health departments.

Numbers released Wednesday in D.C. show that the District recorded 10,128 cases and 541 deaths, an increase of 34 cases and four deaths since Tuesday.

Despite that increase, the metrics have slowed down significantly when compared to last month. On May 29 alone, D.C. recorded an increase of 179 cases of the virus.

“This is an area that stayed closed or near closed for a longer period of time than other places,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

As of Wednesday, Maryland health officials said they recorded 65,337 confirmed cases and 2,978 deaths statewide, marking an increase of 330 cases and 15 deaths since Tuesday.

During the month of May, Maryland frequently added 1,000 cases each day and dozens of deaths.

It has been the same story for Virginia, where Wednesday’s numbers showed 59,514 cases and 1,661 deaths, an increase of 520 cases and 16 deaths from the day before.

“Hospitalizations have really been trending down,” Sharfstein said of the D.C. region’s coronavirus patients. “We’re also seeing a decline in the percent positive among the test results.”

Troubling surges have worsened in several states, with Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas setting single-day records for new cases. Some governors have said they’ll consider reinstating restrictions or delaying reopening plans in order to help slow the spread of the virus.

But, even as cases have spiked, the death toll has been trending down nationwide.

“That reflects, in part, the fact that there are better treatments,” Sharfstein said. “It’s still very much a lethal disease, but the mortality has come down.”

As the D.C. region makes progress, Sharfstein said that health officials should be strengthening their capacity, adding contact tracing and improving their ability to support vulnerable communities.

“This is not a ‘mission accomplished’ moment,” he said. “This is the moment to really double down on the public health response so we’re better prepared for whatever could come in the fall.”

According to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has recorded more than 120,000 likely related deaths and more than 2.3 million known cases.

Worldwide, there have been more than 9.2 million known cases and nearly 500,000 likely related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

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