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Coronavirus cases mount in Virginia, as the state begins next phase of vaccinations

The day after Northern Virginia health districts announced they will move to the next phase of their coronavirus vaccination plans, the state on Saturday reported record numbers of new cases and hospitalizations, underscoring the continued severity of the pandemic.

Saturday's new virus case totals - 5,789 in Virginia, combined with 3,758 in Maryland and 350 in the District of Columbia - fueled a daily regional caseload of 9,906 and a seven-day average of 8,157, both new highs, data show.

In Virginia, 3,302 people were hospitalized on Saturday, compared with 1,877 in Maryland. Hospitalizations in the District rose to a record 280, boosting the seven-day average to 264, data show.

The number of new coronavirus-related deaths continued to climb, with 69 in Virginia, 30 in Maryland and four in the District for a single-day regional total of 103.

The numbers of vaccinations administered in the region is climbing steadily, and officials say more people have been vaccinated than reflected by the cumbersome data reporting software.

Vaccinations began last month with health-care personnel and people living and working in long-term care facilities. Virginia, Maryland health departments and the District are prioritizing different groups based on each jurisdiction's population, vaccine supplies and logistical capabilities.

In Virginia, at least 156,429 first doses were administered as of Saturday, followed by Maryland with at least 123,971 first doses administered, according to each state's reporting websites. As of Monday, the last day the District updated its website, 16,989 doses were administered, which represents the 58 percent of providers who have fully reported data to the city's health department. District providers plan to begin vaccinating residents 65 or older on Monday.

Public health districts in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the city of Alexandria, as well as Southwest Virginia west of Roanoke, will move to their second phase of vaccine distribution gradually, the Virginia Department of Health said.

The category includes people age 75 and older; people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps; and a large and varied category of front-line essential workers who cannot work remotely.

Local health departments will contact groups of essential workers in the following order: police, fire and hazardous materials response teams; corrections and homeless shelter workers; K-12 teachers and school and child-care staff; food and agriculture workers, including veterinarians; manufacturing workers; grocery store staffers; public transit workers; mail carriers, including the U.S. Postal Service and private companies; and finally those needed to maintain continuity of government.

Across the region, hospitals are administering vaccine to front-line clinicians first, followed by nonclinical and administrative staff. CVS and Walgreens pharmacies are coordinating vaccination of long-term care facility residents and staff.

In Virginia and Maryland, local health districts are responsible for other health-care professionals who live or work in their locality. Giant, Safeway and select nonprofit organizations fill that role in the District.

Published : January 10, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Jenna Portnoy