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COVID Blog: The DMV is on a rollercoaster, and it's headed upward

Yes, the vaccine is here. No, that doesn't mean the numbers are going down anytime soon.

WASHINGTON — It’s Tuesday, December 15. Yesterday I took a page from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and titled the coronavirus blog “a day of hope.” Today, though, it’s a day for coming back down to the ground.

While the DMV continues making history by deploying the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the virus situation hasn’t suddenly improved. Many critical metrics across the region are as bad as they’ve been at any point since the pandemic began.

In both Maryland and Virginia, more people are hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before. In Virginia alone there are nearly 500 ICU patients with the virus.

D.C. has also seen COVID-19-related hospitalizations rise to levels it hasn’t had since June, with more than 10% of patients reported as coronavirus-positive. That means the city has passed its red line for determining whether it has sufficient hospital capacity.

In case you’re just here for the numbers, here’s where the DMV stands today:

  • D.C. reported 301 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday and 4 new deaths. More than 25,000 people in the city have now contracted the virus.
  • Maryland reported 2,401 new cases of the coronavirus and 61 new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s death total from the virus to more than 5,000. Over the past week, Maryland has been averaging more than 40 deaths a day from COVID-19.
  • Virginia reported 3,160 new cases and 56 new deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday. That’s the commonwealth’s third-highest death count to date in a single day.

How are things in the DMV?

In Virginia, new restrictions went into place yesterday, including a curfew and further limits on social gatherings. Tomorrow, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s County in Maryland will implement their own new restrictions – including ending indoor dining for the time being. Montgomery County is debating whether to do the same.

The new restrictions come as Gov. Ralph Northam tries to slow the dramatic growth of coronavirus cases in the commonwealth. As of Tuesday, Virginia is now averaging 3,654 new cases a day – up 55% from where it was just two weeks ago.

The commonwealth is also now averaging a testing positivity of 11.2%, which means not only is it reporting more cases than ever before, but it’s also missing more cases than it was even a month ago, when the average percent positivity was 7%.

Maryland passed an unwelcome milestone on Tuesday as the state reported its 5,000th death from the coronavirus. The state is now averaging 40 deaths from the virus a day – up nearly 50% from where it was two weeks ago.

In Montgomery County, the total number of coronavirus cases broke the 40,000 mark on Tuesday. Both it and Prince George’s County (48,000+ cases) have reported more cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began than five states.

The reality in the DMV is, even though the vaccine is here, we’re already strapped into a rollercoaster that’s heading upward. And we’ve likely still got a way to go before we reach the (hopefully final) peak.

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