As the omicron variant of the coronavirus rapidly spreads across the country, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. all reported record-setting numbers of COVID-19 cases over the three-day Christmas weekend.
According to a report from The Washington Post, on Monday the nation’s capital and its neighboring states reported the highest seven-day new case averages of any point during the pandemic.
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“In Virginia, 18,513 people tested positive over the three-day Christmas weekend and 25 died of COVID-19. Maryland reported 5,376 new cases Monday, on top of more than 15,000 during the weekend, and has not yet returned to reporting deaths because of a cyberattack that affected the state’s heath department. The District reported 9,200 cases and two deaths from Dec. 23 to 26,” the newspaper wrote.
The Post said that many who had tested positive had been among the large crowds lined up to get tested before the holiday and more than 16% of all reported tests in D.C. had come back positive as of Sunday – a percentage it said was likely higher because the rate does not take into account any at-home tests that residents do not report to the health department.
Meanwhile, Maryland’s Baltimore County declared a state of emergency Monday on Monday and northern Virginia counties have also seen an increase in transmission over the past two months.
Although hospitalizations continue to rise and the number of COVID-19 patients in the District, Maryland and Virginia is reportedly higher than ever, all three locations have fewer of those patients hospitalized than during Winter 2020’s COVID-19 peak.
Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a 7-day positivity rate of 15-19.9% in Maryland, Virginia and Washington.
The cases in the last week in D.C. total nearly 8,350, almost 40,550 in Virginia and close to 42,200 in Maryland.
Maryland reported its first confirmed cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus on Dec. 3, Virginia reported its first confirmed case on Dec. 9 and D.C. confirmed four cases three days later.
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Beginning in January, D.C. residents over the age of 12 will have to show proof of vaccination to enter any restaurant, bar, nightclub or gym.
All District of Columbia students must be fully vaccinated by March 1.
“I don’t make any of these types of decisions lightly,” Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters earlier this month, after bringing back an indoor mask mandate.
She said crises like the pandemic are “the exact time when the government needs to make some decisions for the whole society.”
CDC data shows omicron accounted for 59% of new cases in the U.S. for the week ending Dec. 25, up 23% from the previous week.
While much about the variant of concern remains unknown – like whether it causes more or less severe illness – scientists say it spreads more easily, especially among the unvaccinated.
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At a White House COVID-19 Response Team call with governors on Monday, President Biden said omicron is a source of concern but “should not be a source of panic.”
The president noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had already deployed emergency response teams to Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Mexico and was ready to provide more hospital beds, as well.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.