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COVID Blog: Maryland reports 4 millionth coronavirus test

That's a remarkable number for a state with a population of a little more than 6 million people.

WASHINGTON — It’s Friday, November 20, and Maryland has now conducted more than 4 million coronavirus tests – enough to test more than two-thirds of the state’s population.

That’s an astounding number of tests – a million more than the larger Virginia – for a state that in April was in such dire testing straits that it was quietly moving in South Korean tests and keeping them under guard day and night to prevent them from being taken by the federal government.

The testing milestone is a bright note for a state that also set a new record Friday for its seven-day coronavirus case average of 2,188 cases a day. It’s the fifth day in a row Maryland has set a new record, and the 13th day this month.

Virginia also set a new record high on Friday – also for the fifth day in a row. The commonwealth is now averaging more than 2,000 new cases a day for the first time ever. All 20 days this month rank in the top 20 highest days for cases in Virginia.

In case you’re in a hurry and just looking for the numbers, here’s how things look today:

  • DC  As of Friday, D.C. is now averaging 163 new cases of the coronavirus a day – up 77% from where the city was two weeks ago. Two of its reopening metrics – daily case rate and transmission rate – are both back in the red. The former is now at its highest point since May 11 at nearly the peak of the first wave.
  • Maryland  For the fifth day in a row, and the 13th day this month, Maryland has set a new record-high seven-day average. The state is now averaging 2,188 new cases of the virus a day – up 113% from where it was two weeks ago.
  • Virginia – Like Maryland, Virginia set a new record-high seven-day average for the fifth day in a row. The commonwealth is now averaging more than 2,000 cases a day for the first time ever. All 20 days in November rank in the 20 highest daily case counts since the pandemic began. 

How are things in the DMV?

If you’re just now joining this blog-in-progress, the answer remains “bad.”

On Friday afternoon, new restrictions will go into place in Maryland requiring all bars, restaurants and clubs to close at 10 p.m. The indoor capacity for all businesses also rolls back to the Phase 2 limit of 50%.

RELATED | ‘Maryland is in the red zone’ | Gov. Hogan rolling state back to Phase 2 capacities as coronavirus cases surge

In D.C., the city will be adding a new testing site and expanding testing hours citywide beginning Monday in an effort to halt its own rising case numbers. The city is now averaging 163 new cases of the coronavirus a day – twice what it was on November 1.

Mayor Muriel Bowser also warned this week that new restrictions were likely coming “soon,” although didn’t provide a timeframe for when that might happen.

In Virginia, new restrictions began Monday – reducing the limit for public and private social gatherings from 250 to 25, expanding the mask mandate to anyone 5 and up, and making violating the state’s COVID-19 restrictions a misdemeanor for all retail businesses.

On Thursday afternoon, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring won a lawsuit to stop a planned 25,000-person firearms show in Chantilly from operating at full capacity. The show, which was scheduled to run Friday through Monday, would have potentially exceeded the state’s event limit by more than 1,000x.

Wrapping up the week

I said I had my eye on hospitalization numbers at the beginning of the week, and they only got worse throughout.

In Maryland, as of Friday there are 222 more patients hospitalized in the state for treatment of COVID-19 than there were on Monday. That’s a nearly 25% increase in just five days. Since November 1, the number of Marylanders hospitalized because of the virus has increased by 131%.

Credit: Jordan Fischer
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maryland have risen dramatically since the beginning of November.

The numbers are rising so quickly that Gov. Larry Hogan issued a new executive order on Tuesday sharply restricting visitation in hospitals in nursing homes and asking hospitals to limit elective surgeries where possible. The order also creates a new framework for hospitals to move patients to other facilities in order to maximize the number of acute and ICU beds available for coronavirus patients.

I spoke with Maryland Hospital Association President and CEO Bob Atlas on Thursday about the new restrictions, whether cutting back elective surgeries could mean layoffs, and where the state will find backup health care staff amid a national crisis. See what he told me here.

I spent a lot of time on Maryland’s hospital numbers, but the situation in Virginia is worsening rapidly as well. As of Friday there were more than 1,500 patients hospitalized in the state for COVID-19. That’s a 50% jump since the beginning of the month. And of those 1,500 patients, a third – 318 – are in the ICU.

Credit: Jordan Fischer
COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen by more than 50% since the beginning of November.