University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center staffers assess medical supplies on Jan. 6 in preparation for its operation as one of 10 COVID-19 testing sites at local hospitals slated to open the following week. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center staffers assess medical supplies on Jan. 6 in preparation for its operation as one of 10 COVID-19 testing sites at local hospitals slated to open the following week. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

The confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States continue to rise with another 1.4 million reported Tuesday, According to data from the federal Health and Human Services.

The federal agency also reported another 1,673 deaths, increasing the nationwide total to 838,000.

In the D.C. area, Maryland’s Health Department reported Tuesday that nearly 9,700 confirmed cases, 3,452 hospitalizations and 70 new deaths. Monday marked the first time in 12 days the state reported less than 10,000 new daily cases.

Across the bridge in Virginia, approximately 16,681 confirmed cases were reported Tuesday by the state’s health department. The daily confirmed cases figure on Monday stood at 15,463.

Virginia now has 45,150 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, an increase of 3,678 reported Tuesday. The state Health Department notes 167 people are receiving inpatient care with results pending.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a limited public health emergency scheduled to last until Jan. 26.

According to the order, the District and its health care partners can respond “expeditiously and safely to COVID-19 and its ongoing and changing impacts.” The order notes how some hospitals face a 25% decrease in staff shortage relating to COVID-19.

The city’s seven-day transmission average stands at 187 new daily cases per 100,000 people increasing total confirmed cases to 116,278.

To help cure the spread of COVID-19, a vaccine requirement in D.C. goes into effect at 6 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 15 at certain indoor venues. A person must have a mask, an ID and proof of vaccination, according to a coronavirus summary from the mayor’s office.

In addition, free rapid tests will be available for D.C. residents 65 and older at six wellness centers.

The governors in Maryland and Virginia already implemented similar declarations.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan instituted a 30-day state of emergency Jan. 4 that grants the health secretary broad operating powers to assist with staff shortages at nursing homes and hospitals.

Some of those directives include nursing graduates to provide services at any health care facility, allow health care practitioners to practice and conduct tasks outside their scope of licenses and issue guidelines to control and monitor the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and similar congregate facilities.

To ensure the order runs smoothly, the governor mobilized 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard to assist at two new state-managed sites in Anne Arundel and Harford counties. About 250 members will support COVID-19 testing sites throughout the state that includes 20 new sites adjacent to hospitals.

Ten hospitals are scheduled to begin COVID-19 testing this week, including three in Prince George’s County – Laurel Medical Center, University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center in Largo and Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham.

“One of the primary goals of this effort is to ease the burden on hospitals and emergency rooms,” Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday, Jan. 6 outside Laurel Medical Center. “We’re already getting great, encouraging reports that emergency room traffic for testing has dropped dramatically as a result.”

Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), said affiliated hospitals with UMMS registered 200 COVID-19 patients last month. On Thursday, the number stood at 800.

He said about 75% of those patients are unvaccinated and less than 5% are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot.

“It is an important message in helping support our health care workforce to be vaccinated and to be boosted,” Suntha said. “The data I just gave you are facts. These testing facilities will be an incredible resource right now in the fight against COVID-19.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also issued a 30-day state of emergency Monday, Jan. 10 with similar prerequisites such as increasing bed capacity in hospitals, providers with out-of-state licenses in good standing to practice in Virginia and allow licenses nurses to administer COVID-19 vaccines without the supervising of a registered nurse or licensed medical professional.

How much of these provisions will stay intact remains unknown because Gov.-Elect Glenn Youngkin will take over after his inauguration Saturday in Richmond.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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