Tom Bleha and his wife were counting the days until their coronavirus vaccine appointments on Jan. 30, and the promise of a return to what he called “a semi-normal life,” but on Friday evening, Virginia Hospital Center canceled their slots.
“We are outraged,” said Bleha, 85, whose two previous bouts with pneumonia put him at high risk for a serious case of covid-19.
The Arlington hospital will run out of vaccine doses in the coming week after Virginia abruptly changed the way it allocates the doses it receives from the federal government. Instead of doses being shipped directly to hospitals, they will now be scattered throughout Virginia localities based on population, upending a distribution system that had been in place for several weeks.
While Arlington County has said appointments, such as those the Blehas had, will be rescheduled, the sudden change is indicative of the problems and uncertainty that have plagued the rollout of coronavirus vaccine doses throughout the greater Washington region since they began arriving at loading docks in mid-December. And those problems could be magnified once more people are allowed to get vaccinated.
The firefighter’s family had decided to let him go.
For a month, Steve Collins, a 33-year veteran of the Prince George’s County fire department, had been hooked to a ventilator and fighting for his life against the coronavirus. The doctors said he would not wake up. His family visited a funeral home to make arrangements.
But before they said farewell, they had one request: Wait to remove him from the machines until after his 61st birthday.
So on July 14, 2020, his friends and family threw what they figured would be his final party. Fellow firefighters, organized by their chief, recorded video messages where they read their “Squadfather” a Bible verse, urged him to get better, told him he’s a “fighter.” It played on loop in his hospital room as Collins’s family prepared for his death.
The next day, Collins’s doctor walked into his room and said his name — and the firefighter opened his eyes.
He tracked his doctor as he walked around the room. He wiggled his toes.
Coronavirus figures released by the District, Maryland and Virginia on Monday showed 8,062 additional cases in the region and 45 deaths.
The confirmed cases reported Monday are roughly four times the number of daily cases reported around the region in May and June, according to The Washington Post’s tracker.
More than 13,000 people from the District, Maryland and Virginia have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Those who have died include activists, writers, firefighters and pastors. They worked in grocery stores, drove public buses and taught children. Read about their lives here.
Reported cases: 204
Reported deaths: 7
In the past seven days, the District has reported 1,472 new cases.
Reported cases: 1,686
Reported deaths: 35
In the past seven days, Maryland has reported 14,924 new cases.
Reported cases: 6,172
Reported deaths: 3
In the past seven days, Virginia has reported 32,069 new cases.
Two women were found fatally shot last week in Charles County, Md., and a man has been taken into custody, the sheriff’s office said Sunday.
Kandeon Meisha Niravanh, 24, and Genesis Garrett, 22, both of Waldorf, were found in a townhouse in the 2400 block of Hanover Court, in Waldorf, about 12:45 a.m. on Thursday, the sheriff’s office said.
Officers went there after the sound of shots was reported. The women had gunshot wounds and died at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.
A man was arrested Saturday in Washington in the case and taken into custody, the sheriff’s office said. A statement released Sunday by the sheriff’s office did not say whether the man had been charged.
No motive in the shootings was specified.
Wizards finally get back on the court, fall to Spurs in San Antonio
The Washington Wizards visited San Antonio on Sunday with a pair of streaks hanging over them, one far more important to break than the other. They snapped the significant one, taking the court for the first time after six consecutive postponed games and 12 days idle.
The second streak still stands, which is unsurprising given the Wizards had only 10 players available while six stayed in D.C., ineligible to play after testing positive for the coronavirus. The Spurs’ 121-101 win at AT&T Center means Washington (3-9) has lost 21 straight games in San Antonio (9-8), a stretch that dates back to 1999.
Even so, Sunday’s loss didn’t smart as much as it might have in any other year. The Wizards had middling expectations after their long, outbreak-induced layoff, with good effort and sustaining energy through four quarters toward the top of Coach Scott Brooks’s list of priorities.
RICHMOND — Virginia, astate that has executed more prisoners than any other in the country, appears poised to eliminate the death penalty — a seismic shift for the state legislature, which just five years ago looked to the electric chair and secret pharmaceutical deals to keep the ultimate punishment alive.
The former capital of the Confederacy would become the first Southern state to abolish capital punishment if a bill on track to pass the Senate gets out of the House and over to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who has promised to sign it.
A ban in Virginia could help sweep in change across the South, according to experts who say racial disparities in the death penalty’s application have roots in the region’s history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.
Maryland would have to pay up to $50 million to companies pursuing a decades-long contract to add toll lanes to the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 if the controversial project doesn’t move forward, according to recently released bid documents.
Under a proposal for the project’s first contract, the state would have to reimburse upfront “predevelopment costs” if the highway plan stalls for a list of reasons. Those include if land costs more than expected, the federal government withholds its environmental approval or the state board that approves major contracts rejects it.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has said the toll lanes will come at “no net cost” to taxpayers because companies will finance their construction in exchange for keeping most of the toll revenue via a 50-year public-private partnership. The state’s transportation chief reiterated that pledge on Tuesday.
However, details of the project’s first proposed contract for a private team — which involves developing the lane designs for about a year while pursuing the longer-term partnership — show the state plans to take on millions of dollars’ worth of early risk.
State transportation officials say coordinating with companies earlier in the process will help prevent the kinds of problems that caused extensive cost overruns and delays on its light-rail Purple Line construction and left that partnership on the brink of collapse. But critics say it will create other financial vulnerabilities sooner, before the state knows whether widening the highway is environmentally, financially and legally viable.
A day after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) called for Donald Trump to resign from the presidency or be ousted. Hogan favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and thinks Republicans should focus less on opposing abortion. He wants to “purge” the party of “radical extremists.”
That doesn’t sound like someone with much future in the national GOP, given that a Washington Post poll two weeks ago found a solid majority of the party wants to continue to “follow Trump’s leadership.”
But Hogan believes that the recent erosion of Trump’s approval ratings in the GOP — from 85 percent in October to 79 percent this month — suggests that Hogan’s stances are gaining support among Republicans appalled at Trump’s recent behavior, especially his role in inciting the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. Hogan hopes the trend will continue and reshape the party, opening the door for him to compete for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
“A lot more people are jumping off the sinking ship and trying to get onto the life raft where I’ve been all along,” said Hogan, a Trump critic since before the 2016 election. He spoke to me last week in a wide-ranging interview in which he described his vision for the GOP going forward and his role in it.
With desks, chairs and file cabinets, hundreds of Native Americans barricaded the entrances to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in downtown Washington, just six blocks from the White House.
It was the week before the 1972 presidential election between President Richard Nixon and Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), and the group of men, women, children, activists and elders had come to the nation’s capital in a caravan of vans, trucks and cars to demand a meeting with Nixon and top officials. They wanted to describe the poor housing, underfunded schools and health crises they faced — a result, they said, of the U.S. government’s failure to honor treaties with their tribal governments.
They called their effort “The Trail of Broken Treaties,” a nod to the forcible removal in the 1830s of thousands of Native Americans from their homelands during the “Trail of Tears.”
“We wanted them to know the conditions we lived in. We wanted them to know the downright blatant persecution of the government of Native Americans,” said Sid Mills, one of the leaders of the takeover of the bureau in 1972.
An estimated 500 to 800 Native Americans took part, taking over the four-story granite headquarters of the BIA. Their siege bore little resemblance to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. It lasted much longer — six days vs. several hours. And the Indians didn’t storm inside but rather walked in and refused to leave.
Since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, 38 U.S. Capitol Police employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the head of the officers’ union said Saturday. Cases are also climbing among members of the D.C. National Guard stationed around the Capitol.
Meantime, the Justice Department said five more people have been arrested in the Capitol riot, including a county jail guard from New Jersey who took an “emergency holiday” from work to travel to Washington and a Federal Aviation Administration employee from California who is a QAnon follower, court records stated.
In another development, two police officers from rural Virginia who had admitted their participation in the Capitol siege were suspended without pay by their department after a search warrant affidavit disclosed that one told a friend on Jan. 10: “I’m going to war . . . DC on the 20th for sure.”
The commandant of the Virginia Military Institute, William “Bill” Wanovich, who came under scrutiny for posing in a photo mocking Hispanics at a campus Halloween party three years ago, is retiring at the end of the academic year, the college announced Friday.
Wanovich’s pending departure marks the latest major disruption at VMI since The Washington Post published a series of stories exposing racism at the nation’s oldest state-supported military college.
The revelations prompted Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), a VMI graduate, to order an independent investigation into what he called the school’s “clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism.” The investigation will be completed later this year.
George Totoreanu, a 25-year-old MBA student at Georgetown University, was playing video games in his home office late Saturday night when, reaching for a glass of water, he thought he saw flames flickering outside his window.
“Is that really a fire?” he asked his fiancee.
It was. Across the street from their townhouse on Sterling Terrace in Gaithersburg, a fire was engulfing another townhouse and a car in the driveway.
What Totoreanu did next, authorities said, probably saved the lives of 18-month-old twins and their grandparents: He put on his slippers and sprinted across the street in the frigid night into the burning home.
“I didn’t think about it at all,” Totoreanu said in an interview Sunday. “I just went.”
RICHMOND — Virginia GOP Chairman Richard Anderson publicly complained over the weekend that the party's deteriorating headquarters is a "literal ghetto."
Anderson made the comment Saturday at the end of a marathon Zoom meeting, when a member of the State Central Committee asked Anderson for an update on the brick building in downtown Richmond.
The cash-strapped party, which had $1,514 in the bank as of Dec. 31, has long put off expensive repairs.
“This staff deserves to have a world-class facility, not the literal ghetto they now live and work and serve in,” Anderson said, as he promised to find a way to make improvements, including a $37,000 fix to its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.
A 24-year-old Montgomery County man who allegedly attacked an acquaintance with a baseball bat and knife was charged with first-degree murder Saturday in the latest of a spate of homicides this year in the suburban Maryland jurisdiction.
Jose Lara-Chacon was being held on no bond status Saturday, according to court records. He allegedly attacked the other man Friday night inside an apartment along Veirs Mill Road in the Wheaton area, police said.
Detectives were trying to confirm the identify of the victim on Saturday.