How DC-area counties are handling the rise in coronavirus infections

As coronavirus cases increase across the U.S., here’s a look at the cases in several D.C.-area jurisdictions and what counties are doing to curb the uptick.

Local and state governments in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. have announced tighter restrictions as coronavirus indicators have shown an upward trend.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday some tighter COVID-19 restrictions, which include limiting in-person gatherings to 25 people, an expanded face mask mandate, halting late-night alcohol sales at restaurants and increased enforcement of pandemic rules for essential businesses, such as grocery stores.

Earlier this week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced tighter capacity restrictions for bars, restaurants and indoor gatherings amid worsening coronavirus health metrics in the state.

New travel restrictions took effect Monday in D.C., and Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city may impose new restrictions as the District moves toward winter.


More Coronavirus News

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.


New cases

The number of new cases per 100,000 allows you to compare larger and smaller jurisdictions. This is a barometer of community spread and can be used to determine which states go on high-risk travel lists.

Three weeks ago, in Fairfax County, Virginia, the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 of the population stood at 97; as of Friday, it’s up 81% at 176.

In that same time period, Loudoun County, Virginia, went from 36 to 60, a 67% increase. Prince William County is up 37%, from 66 to 91.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, the numbers have doubled from 10 on Oct. 21, to 19.3 this week. The number slightly more than doubled in Prince George’s County, from 11.2 to 22.6 in the same time period.

The Montgomery County Council voted to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions that tighten the rules for businesses, restaurants and religious organizations.

In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the average daily new cases climbed past 20 — far higher than the previous peak of about 14 over the summer and in the spring. This led to several new restrictions related to social gatherings, youth athletics and dining.

In D.C., for the third day in a row, the number of daily cases is in the triple digits, at 159 on Friday.

“We have to all be reminded of all the advice that we have been providing over the last several weeks … don’t get tired of being vigilant about COVID,” Bowser said Thursday.

Hospitalizations

When it comes to hospitalizations, one of the most alarming numbers comes from Prince George’s County, where average weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 21% this week from last week.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced tightened COVID-19 restrictions, including reduced capacity limits at bars and restaurants, limiting the size of gatherings, and redoubling efforts to reduce crowding at grocery stores and other retailers.

“We are in the midst of another surge,” Alsobrooks said during a news conference Thursday.

In Montgomery County, the percent of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is up to 10.7% from 7%.

In Virginia, the seven-day average of new hospitalizations in Fairfax County has more than tripled from, 3 to 10, since late October. The numbers are also up slightly in Loudoun County from 1.14 to 2, but down in Prince William County from 4 to 2.

In D.C., though COVID-19 cases account for less than 5% of the total, the city is at 90% of its health system capacity.

D.C.-area hospitals never disbanded their COVID-19 emergency preparedness teams from the spring, and said they are “far better equipped to handle a flood of COVID-19 patients than they were when the pandemic first exploded this spring,” The Washington Post reported.

Nationwide, hospitalizations are topping records, with a Wednesday high of 65,368 people, double the number a month ago, CNN reported.

WTOP’s Jack Moore, Will Vitka, Kate Ryan, Matt Delaney, Teta Alim and Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.

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