The Virginia Department of Health said an adolescent resident of the Southside Health District — which serves Brunswick, Halifax and Mecklenburg counties along the state’s North Carolina border — died after testing positive for the virus. Officials said the victim was a teenager but didn’t release other information.
“This unfortunate event, along with the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases we are seeing in some areas of the commonwealth, is a reminder that we all need to do our part to help slow the spread of [the] virus,” Virginia Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver said in a statement.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Friday eased restrictions on indoor dining to coincide with a new statewide restaurant week promotion that his administration created.
Starting at 5 p.m. Monday, restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons at 75 percent capacity — up from 50 percent — in jurisdictions where local leaders agree it is safe for larger crowds indoors. The announcement comes two days after Hogan said publicly that doctors were urging him not to increase indoor dining capacity.
“I’m pushing to get more capacity . . . but our doctors, because our positivity [rate] has not gotten down — we’ve stayed flat — they’re really strongly against it,” Hogan said Wednesday on WBAL radio.
In announcing the reopening, the governor did not address daily case counts that have ticked upward since Labor Day. He posted on Twitter Friday about visiting an Annapolis mainstay restaurant and ordering chicken wings, complimenting business owners for their resiliency and the creativity they’ve shown in staying afloat.
“To celebrate the first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week, I encourage Marylanders to support their favorite local businesses, whether you do so through delivery, curbside pickup, or by dining indoors or outside,” Hogan said in a news release.
Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said the governor contemplated relaxing standards when he announced a move into Phase 3 on Sept. 1 but waited for two more weeks of data. Those updated metrics showed declining hospitalizations and a positivity rate dropping from 3.36 to 3.21 percent. Some counties also had asked for a relaxation to accommodate the shift in weather, Ricci said.
Local governments in Maryland have the power to decide how much to reopen and can move at a slower pace than the state, which much of the Washington region has generally done throughout the pandemic.
Spokespeople for Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D), Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) said those jurisdictions won’t be expanding capacity inside restaurants on Monday. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D) said his county will expand dining capacity.
Still, Anne Arundel officials did announce more restrictions will be lifted next week. Theaters in the county can open at 50 percent capacity or a maximum of 100 people — whichever is less — starting Sept. 25. That measure will bring the county in line with statewide Phase 3 guidance Hogan announced earlier this month.
At the state’s flagship university, more than 200 students were ordered Friday to restrict their movement around campus and monitor for possible symptoms after a recent surge of coronavirus cases in their dorm.
Residents of the University of Maryland’s Denton Hall are not under quarantine, university spokeswoman Natifia Mullings said, but “out of an abundance of caution,” they cannot attend face-to-face classes or report to in-person jobs for two weeks.
Residents in the 247-student dorm have been told to stay in their rooms as much as possible and avoid public places. Communal restrooms in the building can be used by two students at a time.
In the past two weeks, 23 students in Denton Hall have tested positive for the coronavirus, Mullings said. Those students are being isolated and nine others who came into contact with someone with a positive case were moved to quarantine housing.
More than 150 people across campus were in quarantine housing Thursday, according to university data.
U-Md. resumed in-person classes Monday after holding classes online for two weeks, a delay that allowed officials to expand testing, said university President Darryll J. Pines.
The greater Washington region on Friday reported 1,847 new coronavirus infections and 37 additional deaths. Virginia had 1,242 new cases and 29 deaths; Maryland had 543 new cases and eight deaths; D.C. had 62 new cases and no additional deaths.
Virginia’s death toll was well above average for a fourth consecutive day, lifting its seven-day average number of fatalities to 34 — a jump from eight to start the week. The state reported a record 96 deaths Tuesday, citing a reporting backlog that included deaths that occurred over the past month. Virginia officials attributed 19 of Friday’s deaths to the backlog.
Rachel Chason, Dana Hedgpeth and Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.