Although hospitalizations and deaths have mostly flattened across Maryland, Virginia and the District, dozens of fatalities are still reported each day, including the death over the weekend of a 15-year-old girl from Baltimore County.
Sean Naron, a county government spokesman, said the girl was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital on May 11 and died there on Saturday from a multi-system inflammatory syndrome linked to covid-19. It is the same syndrome documented in New York and elsewhere, which has been described by medical professionals as a Kawasaki-like illness.
“Any loss of life from this virus is tragic, but the loss of a child is devastating,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski (D) said in a statement. “This is a stark reminder that this virus spares no one, and that we all must remain vigilant in our efforts to stay home, socially distance, and limit the spread of this deadly disease.”
Virginia officials said Tuesday that a child in the Fairfax health district had the syndrome but was recovering.
“The child was hospitalized on May 5 and has since been discharged and is recovering at home,” state health officials said in a news release. They declined to disclose additional information.
The District, Maryland and Virginia on Tuesday announced 93 new covid-19 fatalities, the highest in five days after the usual weekend dip in reported deaths.
Maryland reported 58 fatalities and 1,784 new cases — which is the highest single-day increase in confirmed infections since the pandemic started. The spike in cases coincides with more than 7,100 new test results received, which is also one of the highest one-day totals since Hogan (R) set a goal of testing 10,000 daily. Maryland now has 41,546 known cases and 2,081 deaths.
Virginia disclosed 27 new deaths and 1,005 new cases, which are both higher than the seven-day average for new fatalities and positive test results. That brings the total to 1,041 deaths and 32,145 cases.
The District reported eight new fatalities — all people older than 60 — bringing its death toll to 400. The city also disclosed 164 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of known positive test results to 7,434.
As of Sunday, the District was at nine days of declining community spread of the virus — which is different from the raw number of new positive test results — and five days away from hitting the threshold to begin reopening, officials said Tuesday.
Adequate testing is seen as the key to gradually reopening society, because it’s the only way public health officials can understand how to manage the spread of the disease. Both Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) began allowing some retail stores to reopen last week, with restrictions, though officials maintained a more extensive shutdown on areas around Washington that have been hardest hit.
Although Hogan acquired 500,000 testing kits from South Korea with much fanfare last month, his administration has been slow to deploy them or reach his daily testing goal. On average, the state has been testing about 5,000 people per day. This week, the state twice tested more than 7,000 people in a single day.
The state has encouraged doctors not to refer asymptomatic or low-risk patients for testing at public sites, and turned away those without a doctor’s referral. Even for patients with referrals, several counties have been rationing appointments, hamstrung by shortages in supplies and lab capacity.
The situation will start to change Thursday, when the first of several state testing locations will offer testing to anyone exposed to the virus, no appointment or referral needed. There will be no out-of-pocket expense, the governor’s office said.
Expanded testing will be offered at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County starting Thursday, and will be available at vehicle emissions inspection sites in Glen Burnie and Hyattsville starting Friday, and at the Clinton vehicle emissions site next week.
The latter two locations are in Prince George’s County, home to the highest concentration of cases in Maryland. Elected officials there have publicly accused Hogan of being unresponsive to the county’s needs.
“Prince George’s County has been asking for more help with testing for months, but was forced to fend for itself,” Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) said Tuesday in a statement. “Announcing new testing sites after the state reopens, is frankly too little, too late. It is becoming more apparent, we reopened the state without sufficient testing — especially in our hardest-hit communities.”
Brown also said the infection rate in Maryland is “unacceptably high.” On Tuesday, 25 percent of the newly reported 7,152 test results were positive, more than twice the threshold recommended by the World Health Organization for an adequate testing operation.
The governor’s office said the state has administered 200,000 tests and tested 3.5 percent of its population. “This will help doctors diagnose and treat new cases more quickly, and it will further increase the safety of our state for all citizens,” Hogan said in a statement.
The governor also signed an executive order that authorizes pharmacists to order and administer coronavirus tests. The policy coincides with new federal guidelines to pay pharmacists for Medicare beneficiaries who are tested, his office said.
Earlier this week, Hogan launched Caregiver Services Corps, a volunteer group that can help seniors with routine tasks when their usual caregiver is incapacitated because of the virus or other factors. Volunteers can sign up with the state health department.
Virginia has faced continued criticism for lagging most other states in per capita testing even as it begins to loosen restrictions. Like Hogan, Northam has set a goal of 10,000 tests per day. The state has been averaging just under 6,000 for about the past week. Its tests are running just under 15 percent positive.
Virginia has begun offering testing for people who don’t show symptoms at various sites around the state, based on socioeconomic factors that place some populations at greater risk. That has included some public housing projects in Richmond.
This week, officials unveiled a plan to bring testing to locations around Richmond as well as in Manassas, Leesburg, Portsmouth, Petersburg, Fairfax and Alexandria.
In the District, officials expanded testing criteria in recent weeks to include people without symptoms if they are in a high-risk group such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions, members of an infected person’s household, or essential workers.
A testing clinic operated by Howard University Hospital will test residents of Southeast, one of the hardest-hit parts of the city, regardless of symptoms.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has said she may announce as soon as Thursday when the city will begin to ease restrictions. Ahead of that announcement, one of the District’s largest fitness companies is mobilizing its 15,000 members to push to include gyms in the first phase of recovery.
In a Monday email, Vida Fitness urged members to email and call the mayor’s office to urge that gyms be among the first nonessential businesses allowed to resume operations. Officials suggested that members tout the importance of exercise for a healthy immune system.
“We believe we have the means and methods to protect our members and our employees uniquely and more effectively than almost any other retail establishment out there,” said David von Storch, the president and founder of Vida’s parent company, in an interview.
An advisory group on reopening D.C. formed by the mayor is set to issue recommendations this week. A spokeswoman for the mayor declined to comment ahead of the Thursday briefing.
Northam on Tuesday announced the rollout of a state website to help residents dealing with housing issues during the pandemic. Stayhomevirginia.com offers resources for people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, as well as for landlords and the homeless.
“This public health crisis has created unprecedented housing challenges, regardless of whether you rent or own a home,” Northam said in a statement announcing the site.
Northam has also announced the formation of an education work group to help determine how all schools — from pre-K to universities — can safely reopen later this year.
The group started meeting in April.
Ovetta Wiggins and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.