WASHINGTON — It’s Monday, December 28, and the on-again, off-again COVID relief bill is on again.
Days after he upended a bipartisan compromise bill with last-minute demands for more stimulus money and spending cuts, President Donald Trump signed a bill Sunday night to fund the federal government through next fall. The bill includes a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package – part of which is $600 checks for Americans who qualify.
While he was delaying signing the bill, unemployment benefits for millions of Americans temporarily expired Saturday night – including more than 75,000 people in D.C. alone. While the benefits are retroactive – meaning folks on unemployment will eventually get the money the bill provides – the delay means those on unemployment will likely temporarily lose a week of the additional $300 the federal government had been providing.
The delay earned Trump no concessions from Congress – including the $2,000 checks he had demanded but which Republicans roundly rejected – and the red-lined recissions he sent back to the House have already been rejected by Democrats, who control the chamber.
As Jill Colvin from the Associated Press put it, bluntly: “It was unclear what, if anything, Trump accomplished with his delay, beyond angering all sides…”
- D.C. reported 140 new cases of the coronavirus and 3 new deaths on Monday. The city’s seven-day average is down 12% from two weeks ago.
- Maryland reported 1,985 new cases of the coronavirus and 28 new deaths on Monday. The seven-day averages for both new cases and deaths are both down slightly from where the state was two weeks ago.
- Virginia reported 2,599 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and 7 new deaths.
How are things in the DMV?
Case numbers aren’t skyrocketing upward anymore, but I’d be remiss if I suggested they were really improving. In D.C., Maryland and Virginia new cases have plateaued over the last few days – but that plateau is well above even the peak of the DMV’s first wave.
In Virginia, for example, the commonwealth is now averaging 3,666 new cases a day. That’s down from its record-high average of 4,086 cases – set on Christmas Day – but still up 43% from where it was a month ago. Maryland, similarly, is averaging around 600 fewer cases a day than its all-time high, but is still up 11% from four weeks ago.
One metric that has not improved at all is hospitalizations in Virginia. As of Monday, there were more than 2,500 people hospitalized in the commonwealth with the coronavirus. A record-high 321 of those patients were on ventilators.
On the vaccine front, things are moving along, albeit slowly – though, to be fair, it’s difficult to judge how fast states should be able stand up distribution for a new vaccine during a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis.
In Maryland, as of Monday the state has administered more than 20,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. That’s enough to give one dose to about 7% of the state’s approximately 300,000 health care workers. More than half of those doses so far have gone to the Baltimore metropolitan area. About 4,200 doses have been administered in Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Frederick counties.
Also Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan offered a breakdown of the next 82,000 doses that will go out in the state this week:
- 33,100 doses to local health departments to vaccinate first responders. Each local health department in the state is guaranteed a minimum of 600 doses.
- 29,700 doses to Maryland hospitals for critical front-line staff.
- 19,500 doses to CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate nursing home residents and staff through the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care program.
Virginia has now administered nearly 42,000 doses of the 227,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine it has received (about 18.5%). That’s a little under 10% of the approximately 440,000 people in the state’s Phase 1A population, which includes health care workers and long-term care residents and staff.
D.C. hasn’t added a vaccine portion to its coronavirus data portal yet, but the city said last Monday that it had already administered 4,500 of the roughly 6,800 initial doses it received.