New daily reported cases and deaths in D.C.
For a detailed look at cases and deaths, see The Post’s interactive map here.
What are the current restrictions in D. C.?
Private indoor gatherings are capped at 10 people, with outdoor gatherings limited to 25. Restaurants must close at midnight, and alcohol sales are not allowed after 10 p.m. Indoor dining is banned through Jan. 22; after that, capacity is capped at 25 percent. Houses of worship can host services for up to 250 worshipers, if their venues are large enough.
D.C. residents can shop in retail establishments and get haircuts and manicures as long as they wear masks when possible and the businesses follow various restrictions on crowd size and cleaning procedures.
Indoor exercise classes and live entertainment must be canceled, and indoor visits to museums and libraries are banned through Jan. 22.
While originally the bans on indoor dining and museum visits were set to lift on Friday, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) characterized the extra week as an extension in the interest of public safety — that is, preventing people from having a place to gather during the violence-prone days surrounding the Jan. 20 inauguration — not just a coronavirus measure.
Why is the number of virus cases in D.C. going up?
While there is much that we do not know about how D.C. residents are contracting the virus, health director LaQuandra Nesbitt has pointed to small social gatherings as one cause for concern, saying that people have let their guard down and have started hanging out in groups with a few friends outside their household and without social distancing. Among people who contracted the virus in the first half of October — when the rise in cases in the District was beginning — nearly 1 in 4 had attended a social gathering of at least five people, and 1 in 5 had eaten in a restaurant.
Are there enough hospital beds in the District?
The city’s hospitals have remained under 90 percent full, except for one day in November and one day in December. In the event of a surge in cases, most hospitals can make room for cases beyond their normal capacity. Hospital leaders have said they are more worried about running out of nurses to care for all the patients than about running out of beds. That said, in December the District began “warming up” the emergency hospital that it built in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the springtime. The field hospital has never been used, but it could accept patients in an emergency.
How can I get tested for the virus?
Many of the tests conducted in D.C. each day happen at private doctor’s offices, so if you have a primary care provider, calling your doctor is the best first step.
If you are looking for a free public testing location, D.C. offers tests every weekday and some weekends at firehouses and other walk-up and drive-through sites throughout the city. Check here to find out which testing sites are open on the day you are interested in visiting.
Can I travel in and out of the city?
Yes. The District recently relaxed the rules for out-of-state travel. Now, if you travel to another state, you are required to quarantine at your home upon returning until you can get a negative coronavirus test, generally three to five days after your trip. If you prefer not to get tested for the coronavirus, you should stay home for two weeks after traveling.
If you want to host visitors from outside the D.C. region, the District’s rules require that your guests get a negative coronavirus test at home before they come here, and if they are staying for longer than three days, that they again get tested while they are in the District. They can use the city’s public testing sites free.
Is it safe to travel by airplane, train or bus?
Traveling is undoubtedly riskier than staying home. Take it from CDC epidemiologist Allison Walker: “There’s really no such thing as safe travel.”
Experts debate about the precise risk of air travel. While only 44 cases have been definitively linked to flights during a time in which 1.2 billion people flew, that low number is much more attributable to the lack of contact tracing to prove whether someone caught the virus on a plane or somewhere else, rather than the effectiveness of the ventilation systems on airplanes, according to the researcher who compiled the data. The CDC estimated that as of September, nearly 11,000 people had been exposed to the virus while on a plane.
That said, trains and buses do not have the same high-tech ventilation systems as planes. If you can drive in your personal car, rather than take a bus with others, consider that option instead.
Are D.C. schools holding classes in person?
The D.C. public school system had hoped to resume in-person schooling for 7,000 elementary students in November, but those plans fell through when the school district and the teacher’s union could not agree on how to safely reopen. The city has since brought a much smaller number of students back to schools where they are participating in virtual instruction, but in a school building.D.C. schools officials have said they plan to start bringing students back to schools beginning Feb. 1.
Do I have to wear a mask in public in D.C.?
Yes. Bowser strengthened the mask requirement in July, requiring everyone over the age of 2 to wear a mask in all businesses, in offices where any other people are working, in taxis or public transit vehicles, in common spaces in apartment buildings and in crowded outdoor settings. “Persons leaving their residences shall wear a mask when they are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time,” the order says.
Is it safe to eat in a restaurant, go shopping, hit the gym or attend a religious service?
Public health experts say any indoor spaces have higher transmission risks than being outdoors. Masking, social distancing and limited capacity can reduce the risk of transmission indoors, but it cannot eliminate it.
The CDC recommends not visiting any of these places if you are feeling ill and to check in advance about mask policies.
Is it safe to eat in a tent outdoors at a restaurant?
The risk of transmission depends on who else is in the tent with you. If it’s a pod limited to only the diners in your household, your transmission risk is less than if multiple tables are seated inside the same sealed tent. Although outdoors, if the tent is closed off to the elements it could create poor ventilation akin to dining indoors. Experts recommend wearing your mask whenever not actively eating and drinking.
How is the city distributing vaccines?
Hospitals in the city received their first doses in mid-December, with five employees at George Washington University Hospital among the first in the nation to get the vaccine. Some government workers in the city, including members of the fire department, were vaccinated in December as part of a campaign to build confidence in the vaccine, particularly among Black and Latino residents.
D.C. began vaccinating residents 65 and older, people and staff in congregate settings such as group homes and homeless shelters, correctional officers and non-health-care personnel supporting operations of coronavirus vaccination clinics on Monday.
Members of the general public can expect to get the vaccine in March or April.
More answers to questions about how the coronavirus vaccine is being distributed in the region can be found here.
Erin Cox and Antonio Olivo contributed to this report.