Good morning — it’s Wednesday. Grab your coffee or tea. It’s time for The Post’s holiday cookie generator.

One programming note: We will be away tomorrow and Friday for a holiday break. Today in D.C. will be back Monday, Dec. 28.

Today’s weather: Partly sunny skies, light winds and temperatures near normal. Highs: Upper 40s.

Here are the top stories for Wednesday
4:22 p.m.
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‘A needle makes my blood run cold’: Will the phobic get the coronavirus vaccine?

Armand Dávila, a 49-year-old digital marketing strategist, takes extraordinary measures to avoid needles, even the mere sight of them.

Told by his doctor he was flirting with diabetes — a diagnosis that would necessitate insulin shots — Dávila took up marathon running. For routine medical procedures, including blood draws and vaccinations, Dávila has worn a sleep mask and headphones — that’s if he can even get himself to go in the first place.

“If I see the needle, I will hyperventilate,” said Dávila, who lives in the District. “If I hear the person coming with the needle, I will hyperventilate. Literally just looking at a needle makes my blood run cold.”

Now, with the coronavirus vaccine rollout, images of needles being jabbed into arms are inescapable on television and social media. For the millions of adults like Dávila who intensely fear needles, the eagerly awaited moment presents an existential dilemma: Many are deathly afraid of a needle that can save their lives.

4:15 p.m.
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Maryland political titan Mike Miller resigns from state Senate

Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a towering political force in Maryland for five decades, resigned from the state Senate Wednesday, saying his health was failing and he no longer had the strength to serve.

Miller (D-Calvert), 78, was elected to the Senate in 1974 and served as Senate president for 33 years, longer than anyone else in the country.

He relinquished the gavel in 2019, after being diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, and was succeeded as chamber leader by Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore City Democrat.

But Miller kept his seat representing parts of Prince George’s and Calvert counties. Now, with his cancer spreading and the legislature set to reconvene in mid-January, Miller sent a letter to Ferguson saying it was time to retire.

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4:02 p.m.
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Christmas performances around Washington that you can watch from home

For many people in the Washington area, seeing “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre or Step Afrika’s “Magical Musical Holiday Step Show” at the Atlas Performing Arts Center is as much a part of the holidays as gathering around a table with family. And while the coronavirus has pressed pause on these traditions, you can still enjoy the festive performances streaming on your tablet — or on an old-fashioned radio.

Here are some of the performances:

  • The Cathedral Choral Society’s “Joy of Christmas" concert, recorded live at Washington National Cathedral, is available to stream for free.
  • Manassas Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” is available online for 30 days, starting on Thursday, and costs $25 to stream.
  • Wolf Trap is hosting a sing-a-long program for carols and other seasonal songs available for free at wolftrap.org.
3:52 p.m.
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This mailman made Christmas stockings for all 250 dogs on his route

There are 250 dogs on Scott Arnold’s U.S. Postal Service route, and every year, he gives each one a personalized Christmas stocking that has their name, dog treats and a note from Santa.

But for the first time in 25 years, Arnold thought he might skip it this year. He knew that the families in the 22101 Zip code area of McLean, Va., would have understood. Arnold, 66, lost his adult son, Jason, in May of unknown causes, just days before his 37th birthday.

Arnold said that an outpouring of love and support from hundreds of his longtime customers helped fuel him through a difficult year. But he wondered whether he had the energy to make and deliver hundreds of stockings.

“It’s been an exhausting year, and the holidays are especially difficult,” said Arnold, who has delivered mail for 38 years.

Then Arnold thought about how much his son had loved dogs, and he knew he had to continue the tradition he calls “Santa Paws.”

3:39 p.m.
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On a Trump-loving island in the Chesapeake, a virus outbreak unites instead of divides

TANGIER, Va. — The news at the dock was bad.

As a handful of masked passengers stepped off the Courtney Thomas, one of the only boats still traveling to and from this remote island in the Chesapeake Bay, Susan Parks looked for the oxygen machine that was scheduled to arrive for her patients. The home-health aide could see it was not among the packages and mail being unloaded. The boat’s captain, Brett Thomas, had another reason to look somber as he stepped off his boat beneath a clear December sky.

“I don’t think Mr. Leon’s doing too well,” he said quietly.

A man walking by looked up.

“He’s had a rough go of it?”

“I think so.”

For eight months, the 450 residents of Tangier Island were spared a single case of coronavirus. Now Leon McMann, 89, a Tangier resident who had still been working on his boat the previous winter, was sick. So were many others.

3:38 p.m.
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Virginia hits single-day record with 4,652 reported coronavirus cases

Coronavirus figures released by the District, Maryland and Virginia on Wednesday showed 7,443 additional cases in the region and 111 deaths.

Virginia recorded a single-day high of 4,652 new cases. The total number of reported cases in the Washington region Wednesday was more than 1,000 cases higher than the seven-day average, according to The Washington Post’s tracker.

More than 11,000 people from the District, Maryland and Virginia have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Those who have died were activists, writers, firefighters and pastors. They worked in grocery stores, drove public buses and taught children. Read about their lives here.

The District

Reported cases: 326

Reported deaths: 7

In the past seven days, the District has reported 1,624 new cases.

Maryland

Reported cases: 2,465

Reported deaths: 49

In the past seven days, Maryland has reported 16,095 new cases.

Virginia

Reported cases: 4,652

Reported deaths: 55

In the past seven days, Virginia has reported 26,893 new cases.

The Post is tracking the number of reported coronavirus cases in the Washington region. Follow the trends here.

Read more about coronavirus cases in the DMV:

3:33 p.m.
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Explosion at building in Baltimore leaves at least 10 people hurt

An explosion at a building in Baltimore on Wednesday morning left at least 10 people hurt.

City fire officials said on Twitter that there was an explosion at a building in the 100 block of West Fayette Street in the downtown area that caused part of its roof to collapse.

Authorities said nine people are in critical condition and one is in serious condition.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

This story will be updated.

3:32 p.m.
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Inova plans major new hospital in Alexandria

Inova Health System will build a $1 billion medical campus on the site of the vacant Landmark Mall on Alexandria’s West End, the hospital and city announced Tuesday.

The hospital system plans to anchor a walkable, 4-million-square-foot medical, retail and residential community in place of the soon-to-be-demolished mall site. The hospital will include a larger emergency room than at its current location on Seminary Road and will become the third Level II trauma center in Northern Virginia, employing 2,000 people overall, officials said. The complex will feature private patient rooms, a new cancer center and a medical office building with about 50 specialists.

The proposal includes the use of $54 million in public bond financing that will require the city to buy the land and lease it to Inova, as well as $76 million in public bond financing for site preparation and infrastructure at the Landmark site and adjacent Duke Street and Van Dorn Street corridors.

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3:11 p.m.
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D.C. and Catholic Archdiocese reach settlement on attendance caps

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington filed a federal lawsuit Dec. 11, charging that the city’s 50-person cap on houses of worship be struck down as an unconstitutional limit on freedom of religion and an unfair rule because it did not take into account the size of the house of worship.

Citing Christmas and the need to get ready for the important holiday, the archdiocese’s lawyers last week filed an order asking the U.S. District Court to decide right away. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) responded last Wednesday by modifying the city’s rules on worship services and other activities.

Limits on indoor worship were set at 250 people or 25 percent of seating capacity, whichever is smaller.

2:50 p.m.
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Problems hamper D.C.’s trash transfer stations

A series of problems — related to both structural damage and coronavirus cases — have limited the ability of Washington’s two trash transfer stations to handle the city’s waste.

First, last month, one of the three chutes that whisks away trash dumped at the Benning Road transfer station started separating from the concrete it is anchored in, according to information given to council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) by officials at the Department of Public Works.

A spokeswoman for Cheh, who chairs the council committee that oversees waste management, said further inspection found that all three chutes were badly damaged. The city started diverting almost all of its waste to the other transfer station at Fort Totten, Cheh spokeswoman Kelly Whittier said.

Then, workers at both transfer stations tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to an email that a solid waste disposal administrator sent to trash companies and government officials last Monday that was obtained by The Washington Post.

2:40 p.m.
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Your next stimulus check may not be in the mail until Jan. 15

It’s not going to be enough for many people, but the next stimulus payment will still help.

The $900 billion pandemic-relief bill Congress passed Monday night provides a second stimulus payment of up to $600 to individuals earning $75,000 or less and up to $1,200 for couples filing jointly earning $150,000 or less. Families are also eligible for $600 per dependent child under 17.

But, based on glitches from the last distribution of stimulus payments, I need to manage your expectations — and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should have done that, too.

“People are going to begin seeing this money next week,” Mnuchin said during a CNBC interview Monday.

This sets up the IRS for a herculean task.

The already beleaguered agency is still trying to address backlogs from coronavirus shutdowns that sent its staff home. There are 2019 tax returns and refunds to process from the delayed 2020 tax season, which shifted its deadline to July 15 this year.

2:28 p.m.
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Man hit by vehicle, killed, in Wheaton, police say

A pedestrian was fatally injured in Montgomery County on Tuesday morning as he tried to cross Georgia Avenue, county police said.

Ricardo Estuardo Jimenez, 53, of Silver Spring, was struck about 4 a.m. at University Boulevard West, in the Wheaton area, police said. He was trying to cross the southbound lanes of Georgia, from east to west, when he was hit by a minivan, police said.

He died at a hospital, according to the police.

It was not clear why he was struck, they said. Police said they are still investigating.

2:08 p.m.
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Hundreds of thousands of families spend holidays with an empty seat at the table

December used to be Haoua and Joseph Diatta’s favorite month. Her birthday is Christmas Eve, their wedding anniversary is Dec. 29, and their daughter was born Jan. 1.

All year, they looked forward to celebrating Christmas and Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, together, proud to be an interfaith couple.

But Haoua, 67, last saw her husband from an ambulance window April 1. She can still picture him, his gentle face and wide smile, standing in front of their D.C. house before running to his car and trailing her to the hospital. She recovered from covid-19 after a month in the hospital. The 71-year-old career diplomat who had shown her the world did not.

They were supposed to celebrate 45 years of marriage this winter with a big family dinner on Christmas Eve. Now Haoua will spend the holidays with just one of her four children.

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2:02 p.m.
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Washington disciplines quarterback Dwayne Haskins for partying without a mask

The Washington Football Team disciplined quarterback Dwayne Haskins after it became aware of photos and videos that surfaced on social media showing him partying indoors while not wearing a mask following Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The images showed Haskins dining with a large group at an Oceanaire Seafood Room restaurant and then dancing in what appeared to be a club.

Coach Ron Rivera spoke to Haskins on Monday after learning of the incident, and the team worked in conjunction with the NFL to handle the matter internally. It is not clear what Haskins’s punishment will be. The league declined to comment on the situation.

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