About this dataSources: State and local health agencies (cases, deaths); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (hospitalizations, test positivity); Centers for Disease Control (vaccinations). Risk calculated with 14-day averages. Cases and deaths charts show 7-day averages. Test positivity chart shows 14-day averages. Hospitalization data is a weekly average of Covid-19 patients in hospital service areas that intersect with Washington, D.C.. County-level testing data from Maine and Ohio may underestimate the total number of tests. The calculated test positivity may be unreliable in some counties in these states. No vaccination data was available for Hawaii and some other places. Counties in some other states were excluded because more than a quarter of vaccination data is missing.
Cases have decreased over the past week but are still high. The number of hospitalized Covid patients has also fallen in the Washington, D.C. area. Deaths have increased. The test positivity rate in Washington, D.C. is relatively low, suggesting that testing capacity is adequate for evaluating Covid-19 spread in the area.
How to protect yourself and others
Based on the high Covid-19 transmission in Washington, D.C. right now, here’s how to lower your personal risk of getting Covid-19 and protect your community, according to public health experts.
We developed this advice with experts at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. If you or someone in your household is older or has other risk factors for severe Covid-19, you may need to take extra precautions.
If you’re fully vaccinated
Individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final vaccine dose. If you are fully vaccinated, you may choose to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for fully vaccinated people since your risk of getting sick is much lower, but you should be mindful that it may still be possible for you to transmit Covid-19 to others. The C.D.C. has also released guidance for vaccinated and unvaccinated people about whether it is safe to do certain activities without a mask.
What can I do after being vaccinated?
According to the C.D.C., vaccinated people can participate in additional activities two weeks after receiving their final vaccine dose.
It’s low-risk to have indoor visits with other fully vaccinated people, such as inviting another household over for dinner without masks and without social distancing, as long as the size of these gatherings is limited to a few households.
Vaccinated people can also socialize indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without a mask or social distancing, as long as none of the unvaccinated individuals are at elevated risk of severe Covid-19. For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can visit their healthy unvaccinated children and grandchildren.
Fully vaccinated people can also resume domestic travel and don’t need to get tested or self-quarantine after traveling.
Read more detailed advice on what you can do after vaccination here.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
Here’s how you can reduce the risk of getting Covid-19 if you haven’t yet completed your vaccination series.
Indoor activities pose a high risk right now.
Avoid crowded indoor places like gyms and movie theaters; nonessential shopping; and indoor personal care services like haircuts and manicures. Given the severity of the outbreak in Washington, D.C., spending time inside with people from other households puts you at risk for getting the coronavirus or spreading it to others.
You can lower your risk during grocery shopping and other indoor activities by keeping your visits as short and infrequent as possible. If you visit an indoor area, choose places where it’s easy to stay apart from others, and avoid places where people do not wear masks. If you meet friends indoors, including inside your home, limit your group to a handful of people, keep your distance and wear a mask.
Avoid nonessential travel.
Avoid all nonessential travel. If you must take a taxi, open the windows and sit far away from others in the vehicle. If you need to take public transit, try to avoid rush hours and crowds so you can keep your distance from others. If you fly, choose less crowded flights or airlines that keep middle seats empty.
Avoid events with more than a handful of people.
Weddings, funerals, concerts, sporting events and other gatherings that bring multiple households together are places where Covid can spread easily. Consider postponing or keeping events small.
Religious services are safest when conducted outside. If you attend an indoor service, choose one without singing and where everyone wears a mask and stays at least six feet apart.
Outdoor activities are a good substitute.
Meet friends outdoors. Outdoor dining, picnics and the beach are good options to consider.
Walking, running, cycling and other outdoor individual workouts are good options for exercise. Low-contact outdoor sports like singles tennis are safer than high-contact sports like basketball.
Protect yourself at work and school.
Work remotely when possible and avoid in-person meetings. In the workplace, less crowded hours are the safest to be on the job.
Children tend to have less-severe symptoms but can still spread the coronavirus, so consider the health risks of everyone in your household when making decisions about your child’s activities.
Learning environments where students stay in small groups during meals and recess make it safer for younger students to go to school. Older students should consider online or hybrid instruction if possible. Avoid play dates and extracurricular activities that involve physical contact or more than a handful of students.
Get medical care if you need it.
Do not skip or delay medical care, including mental health care. Talk to your doctors about postponing any nonessential appointments. If you have an appointment, call before your visit to find out if you need to take special precautions, and ask if telehealth is a good option for you.
Take these important precautions all the time.
You should stay at least six feet away from people who live in other households. Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you are outside your home and whenever you are around people who do not live with you, including any visitors to your home.
If you feel sick or have been exposed to someone with Covid, you should stay home and get tested. If someone in your household feels sick or has been diagnosed with Covid-19, everyone should wear a mask, wash their hands often and stay at least six feet apart from one another, even inside your home.
Avoid crowds, and limit the number of people you meet and the amount of time you spend with them. Avoid indoor spaces with poor airflow. Wash your hands often, especially after visiting a public place or blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Cases have decreased over the past week but are still high.
About this dataNote: The 7-day average is the average of a day and the previous 6 days of data.
An average of 42 cases per day were reported in Washington, D.C., a 51 percent decrease from the average two weeks ago. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 15 residents have been infected, a total of 48,282 reported cases.
January 2021 was the worst month for cases in Washington, D.C..
The number of hospitalized Covid patients has also fallen in the Washington, D.C. area. Deaths have increased.
An average of 77 percent of I.C.U. beds were occupied in the area as of May 13. See more information about local hospitalizations in our interactive map.
About this dataSource: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Hospitalization data is a weekly average of Covid-19 patients in hospital service areas that intersect with Washington, D.C..
The trend in deaths tends to lag weeks behind the trend in reported cases.
About this dataNote: The 7-day average is the average of a day and the previous 6 days of data.
The Covid-19 risk for unvaccinated people is higher in some nearby areas.
About the data
In data for the District of Columbia, The Times primarily relies on reports from the district. The District of Columbia typically releases new data each day. Weekend counts may be lower because fewer sources report to the district. The district reports cases and deaths based on a person’s permanent or usual residence.
The Times has identified the following reporting anomalies or methodology changes in the data:
- May 11, 2021: The District of Columbia announced a backlog of cases from previous days after resolving a technical issue.
- Dec. 27, 2020: The District of Columbia reported data for two days after reporting no data on Christmas.
The tallies on this page include only laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths.
Confirmed cases and deaths, which are widely considered to be an undercount of the true toll, are counts of individuals whose coronavirus infections were confirmed by a molecular laboratory test. Probable cases and deaths count individuals who meet criteria for other types of testing, symptoms and exposure, as developed by national and local governments.
Governments often revise data or report a single-day large increase in cases or deaths from unspecified days without historical revisions, which can cause an irregular pattern in the daily reported figures. The Times is excluding these anomalies from seven-day averages when possible.
About the Covid-19 risk levels
Washington, D.C. is at a high risk level for unvaccinated people because there was an average of 8 daily cases per 100,000 people reported in the past two weeks. The risk in Washington, D.C. will decrease to moderate risk if the daily case rate drops to less than about 2.8 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks and the test positivity stays low.
The New York Times worked with public health experts at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, to develop guidance on how individuals may reduce their risk of exposure to Covid. There is specific guidance for each risk level.
A county’s Covid-19 risk is determined based on the number of reported cases and testing data. Although county risk levels are assigned based on expert guidance and careful analysis, it is possible that the risk level in a specific county may be over or underestimated because of a lack of reliable data.
A county is at an extremely high risk for unvaccinated people if it reported an average daily rate of more than 45 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Small counties with a population of less than 5,000 people are in this category if they reported more than 32 cases over the past two weeks. A county with fewer cases may also be in this category if more than 10 percent of tests had a positive result over the past two weeks. This can mean that the county is not testing enough, and that the number of cases may be significantly undercounted.
A county is at a very high risk for unvaccinated people if it reported an average daily rate of more than 11 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Small counties with a population of less than 5,000 people are in this category if they reported more than 8 cases over the past two weeks. A county with fewer cases may also be in this category if more than 10 percent of tests had a positive result over the past two weeks. This can mean that the county is not testing enough, and that the number of cases may be significantly undercounted.
A county is at a high risk for unvaccinated people if it reported an average daily rate of about 3 or more cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Small counties with a population of less than 5,000 people are in this category if they reported more than 2 cases over the past two weeks. A county with fewer cases may also be in this category if more than 10 percent of tests had a positive result over the past two weeks. This can mean that the county is not testing enough, and that the number of cases may be significantly undercounted.
A county is at a moderate risk for unvaccinated people if it reported an average daily rate of about 1 case per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Small counties with a population of less than 5,000 people are in this category if they reported 1 or more cases over the past two weeks.
A county is at a low risk for unvaccinated people if it reported an average daily rate of less than 1 case per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Small counties with a population of less than 5,000 people are in this category if they reported no cases over the past two weeks.
In some cases, a county might not have a risk level if not enough recent data was available, or if inconsistencies were found in the data. If a county’s recent testing data was not available, the rate of positive tests in the state was used, along with recent cases, to calculate the risk level.
Since the risk levels were first published in January 2021, The Times has made the following methodology changes:
- May 6, 2021: The description of the risk levels and guidance were changed to specify more clearly that they apply to unvaccinated individuals.
- March 31, 2021: The description of the risk levels were changed to the risk of exposure to Covid-19, rather than the risk of getting Covid-19. This change was made to more accurately describe the risk situation of the growing number of vaccinated people.
- March 23, 2021: The risk calculation method was adjusted to use the total number of reported cases, rather than the per capita number, in small counties with fewer than 5,000 people. This change was made in order to estimate risk more precisely in areas where a single case may account for a large percentage of the population.
By Jordan Allen, Sarah Almukhtar, Aliza Aufrichtig, Anne Barnard, Matthew Bloch, Sarah Cahalan, Weiyi Cai, Julia Calderone, Keith Collins, Matthew Conlen, Lindsey Cook, Gabriel Gianordoli, Amy Harmon, Rich Harris, Adeel Hassan, Jon Huang, Danya Issawi, Danielle Ivory, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Alex Lemonides, Eleanor Lutz, Allison McCann, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Jugal K. Patel, Alison Saldanha, Kirk Semple, Shelly Seroussi, Julie Walton Shaver, Anjali Singhvi, Charlie Smart, Mitch Smith, Albert Sun, Rumsey Taylor, Derek Watkins, Timothy Williams, Jin Wu and Karen Yourish. · Reporting was contributed by Jeff Arnold, Ian Austen, Mike Baker, Brillian Bao, Ellen Barry, Samone Blair, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aurelien Breeden, Elisha Brown, Emma Bubola, Maddie Burakoff, Alyssa Burr, Christopher Calabrese, Julia Carmel, Zak Cassel, Robert Chiarito, Izzy Colón, Matt Craig, Yves De Jesus, Brendon Derr, Brandon Dupré, Melissa Eddy, John Eligon, Timmy Facciola, Bianca Fortis, Jake Frankenfield, Matt Furber, Robert Gebeloff, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Matthew Goldstein, Grace Gorenflo, Rebecca Griesbach, Benjamin Guggenheim, Barbara Harvey, Lauryn Higgins, Josh Holder, Jake Holland, Anna Joyce, John Keefe, Ann Hinga Klein, Jacob LaGesse, Alex Lim, Alex Matthews, Patricia Mazzei, Jesse McKinley, Miles McKinley, K.B. Mensah, Sarah Mervosh, Jacob Meschke, Lauren Messman, Andrea Michelson, Jaylynn Moffat-Mowatt, Steven Moity, Paul Moon, Derek M. Norman, Anahad O’Connor, Ashlyn O’Hara, Azi Paybarah, Elian Peltier, Sean Plambeck, Laney Pope, Elisabetta Povoledo, Cierra S. Queen, Savannah Redl, Scott Reinhard, Chloe Reynolds, Thomas Rivas, Frances Robles, Natasha Rodriguez, Jess Ruderman, Kai Schultz, Alex Schwartz, Emily Schwing, Libby Seline, Rachel Sherman, Sarena Snider, Brandon Thorp, Alex Traub, Maura Turcotte, Tracey Tully, Lisa Waananen Jones, Amy Schoenfeld Walker, Jeremy White, Kristine White, Bonnie G. Wong, Tiffany Wong, Sameer Yasir and John Yoon. · Data acquisition and additional work contributed by Will Houp, Andrew Chavez, Michael Strickland, Tiff Fehr, Miles Watkins, Josh Williams, Nina Pavlich, Carmen Cincotti, Ben Smithgall, Andrew Fischer, Rachel Shorey, Blacki Migliozzi, Alastair Coote, Jaymin Patel, John-Michael Murphy, Isaac White, Steven Speicher, Hugh Mandeville, Robin Berjon, Thu Trinh, Carolyn Price, James G. Robinson, Phil Wells, Yanxing Yang, Michael Beswetherick, Michael Robles, Nikhil Baradwaj, Ariana Giorgi, Bella Virgilio, Dylan Momplaisir, Avery Dews, Bea Malsky, Ilana Marcus and Jason Kao.
Additional contributions to Covid-19 risk assessments and guidance by Eleanor Peters Bergquist, Aaron Bochner, Shama Cash-Goldwasser and Sheri Kardooni of Resolve to Save Lives.