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COVID Blog: A 'day of hope' for the DMV

As the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine go out, leaders urge people to stay strong for now.

WASHINGTON — It’s Monday, Dec. 14, and history is being made in the DMV as the first doses of the vaccine for the novel coronavirus are being administered.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan called it “a day of hope” as the first dose of vaccine in the state was administered to Shawn Hendricks, the nursing director of medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Hendricks was joined by other front-line health care workers from the University of Maryland Medical System in receiving the state’s first doses of the vaccine. Hogan said he spoke with the first five recipients afterward.

“We’ve still got some tough times ahead, but hopefully this really is the beginning of the end,” Hogan said.

In D.C., U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar himself was present as the first doses were administered at George Washington University. Later this week, five members of DC Fire and EMS dubbed The First Five will receive the vaccine as a public show of support for getting vaccinated.

The Associated Press also reported Monday that at least two health systems in Hampton Roads and Richmond, Virginia, had also received a limited shipment of vaccine doses.

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

  • D.C. reported 164 new cases and 1 new death from the coronavirus on Monday.
  • Maryland reported 2,314 new cases and 24 new deaths from the coronavirus on Monday. The state also now reports 1,742 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 – a new all-time high.
  • Virginia reported 3,240 new cases and 3 new deaths from the coronavirus on Monday. The far-below-average death numbers reported Sunday and Monday are likely caused by intermittent issues with data reporting the commonwealth has had throughout the pandemic.

How are things in the DMV?

Today was the first time in weeks I’ve been able to write this: Neither Maryland, D.C. nor Virginia set a new record high for cases or deaths.

Mind you, the numbers haven’t really gone down appreciably – Maryland’s seven-day average for Monday was just 4% below its all-time high – but considering some of these metrics had been setting a new record every single day for weeks straight, it’s something.

D.C.’s turnaround time for test results has held steady below the 3-day red line since Friday as well. It had spiked after Thanksgiving to as high as 4.3 days.

I should note that it’s not all middling-to-good news today. Maryland again set a new record high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations – 1,742 patients as of Monday – and Virginia’s average percent positivity for coronavirus tests has hovered around 11% for more than a week now.

With initial vaccine doses limited to just front-line health care workers in most places, it’s unlikely today’s rollout will have much impact on coronavirus numbers in the region. For the time being, please continue wearing your mask.

Also, in case you missed it last week, new coronavirus restrictions will be going into place this week in Virginia and several Maryland counties. Read more about those here.