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COVID Blog: Half of Virginia now eligible for the vaccine

Gov. Ralph Northam has expanded the categories of people who can get the vaccine to police, grocery workers and teachers – but supply isn't keeping up with demand.

WASHINGTON — It’s Thursday, Jan. 14, and according to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, half the commonwealth is now eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine.

On Monday, the commonwealth allowed 11 health districts, including those in Northern Virginia, to expand vaccinations out to Group 1B, which includes police, grocery store workers and teachers.

That last group will be particularly important, because Northam said on Thursday that – despite cases continuing to surge in the commonwealth – he wants school districts to start planning on reopening. With 86,000-some teachers in Virginia to vaccinate – along with millions of other residents in groups 1A and 1B – the commonwealth is going to have to do a lot better than the 13,000 shots a day it’s currently giving out.

To that point, Northam’s deputized vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny T.K. Avula said Thursday the commonwealth could see “movement” as soon as next week on mass vaccination centers. The goal, Avula said, would be for these to eventually be run by the Virginia National Guard and contracted vaccinators.

In case you’re just here for the numbers, here’s where things are at in the DMV today:

  • D.C. reported 220 new cases of the coronavirus and 11 new deaths on Thursday – the city’s highest single-day death count since mid-May.
  • Maryland reported 2,948 new cases of the coronavirus and 44 new deaths on Thursday.
  • Virginia reported 5,295 new cases of the coronavirus and 74 new deaths on Thursday. The commonwealth is now averaging 50 deaths a day from COVID-19 for the first time ever.

How are things in the DMV?

As of Thursday, the District of Columbia – having administered more than 36,000 of the 68,325 doses of vaccine it has received – is below just West Virginia, North Dakota and South Dakota in getting doses out. Maryland and Virginia are moving much slower, having administered 31.5% and 25.5% of their doses, respectively.

In Virginia, while it’s hard to say the number is exactly “good,” the commonwealth is starting to see a decline in its average testing positivity for the first time in months. Beginning in early October, when the commonwealth was averaging less than 5% positivity in coronavirus tests, that metric rose steadily – up to 17.2% on January 3.

Since then it’s been on a declining trend, and as of Thursday was at 15.5%. That’s still the sort of positivity rate Virginia was seeing in May during the initial wave of the virus – and five percentage points above the 10% goalpost for states to reopen – but it is at least movement in the right direction.

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