The spike fueled the greater Washingon area’s third-highest daily number of infections since the start of the pandemic. It also dented progress in the region, which has seen caseloads plateau in recent days after more than doubling in July.
Virginia’s cases reported Friday were from across the state and were enough to lift Northern Virginia’s seven-day average to its highest level since June 13. Prince William and Fairfax counties reported the most new cases in the state.
The Virginia Department of Health blamed the reporting problem on a technical issue in its coronavirus database. Officials said that it was discovered late Thursday by the department’s Office of Information Management and that the problem was fixed.
The state’s one-day spike comes the day after known coronavirus cases in D.C., Virginia and Maryland surpassed 200,000. Health experts have said the region could be turning a corner after slight case declines in hot spots such as Virginia’s Hampton Roads region and the Baltimore metro area.
Even with Friday’s increase, infections in the Hampton Roads area have generally ticked downward in recent days.
Anne Monroe, an epidemiologist at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, said that the Washington area is still seeing ups and downs in its caseloads and that residents should continue to be cautious.
The seven-day average of new daily cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia more than doubled in July, ending above 2,000. Monroe called the increases over the past month “disheartening.”
“There are still groups of individuals who are congregating without masks and in close quarters,” she said.
Monroe said some people are traveling out of the region to attend gatherings in parts of the country considered hot spots, then returning home and testing positive. She said other spread is happening locally among essential employees such as health-care workers, grocery store clerks and bus drivers.
“They’re doing their best, but their jobs just put them at higher risks,” Monroe said.
She worried that a lengthy turnaround time for test results could be discouraging people from getting tested. Some patients in the region who were told that their tests would take a few days have waited longer than two weeks to get results, eliminating the opportunity for meaningful contact tracing.
Monroe urged anyone with possible exposure or who is showing symptoms to get tested and quarantine until the results come back.
Health experts are also looking at whether cases increased after weeks of protests in the region around the death of George Floyd, but Monroe said initial findings indicate that there wasn’t a surge of positive cases. She noted that some people who didn’t show symptoms or get tested still could have passed the virus to others.
The number of cases since the start of the pandemic in D.C., Maryland and Virginia reached 204,277 on Friday, with 2,887 new cases and 34 new deaths.
The District reported 71 new cases and two deaths, while Maryland had 801 new cases and 14 deaths. Besides Virginia’s near-record daily caseload, the state added 18 deaths.
Maryland’s seven-day coronavirus test positivity rate declined Friday for a third consecutive day, dropping below 4 percent for the first time. Montgomery County’s rate hit a record low of 2.5 percent.
In Prince George’s County, some patients who already had been tested at county sites have been turned away recently because of concerns about the quantity of supplies, Health Officer Ernest L. Carter said.
He said additional tests are available for residents who are symptomatic or have a known or suspected exposure to someone with an infection. Beyond that, he said, nurses at the county’s testing sites consider requests for tests “on a case-by-case basis.”
Carter said the county operates and supplies testing equipment to as many as seven sites each week that are free to the public regardless of insurance and do not require appointments.
“The health department must be mindful of its testing supply on a daily basis,” he said in a statement.
In Baltimore, a mayoral executive order to restore indoor dining at limited capacity with social distancing measures went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday. The decision from Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) comes two weeks after he suspended dining inside bars and restaurants to battle a growing virus caseload in the city.
The city’s seven-day average caseload dropped to 150 on Friday, its lowest level since July 26.
Rachel Chason contributed to this report.