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After Thanksgiving travel, Washington region braces for coronavirus rise

While it could be weeks before the region sees the effect of Thanksgiving travel, Bowser on Monday pointed to a nationwide jump in cases that is still being felt in the nation’s capital. She reminded residents to adhere to city travel guidelines, which call on those who visit a “high-risk” state to limit activities for 14 days when returning to the city. Residents and visitors can also get tested within three to five days of arriving and self-monitor for symptoms until receiving a negative test result.

“We expect that we’re going to have more cases,” Bowser said. “We’re also in a good position to do a lot of testing. We have a very robust testing program which we feel strongly will help us identify and isolate people who have been infected by covid.”

The seven-day average of new daily infections across the greater Washington region on Monday was 4,662, down slightly from a high of 4,989 recorded on Thanksgiving Day.

The region recorded 3,920 new coronavirus cases and 20 deaths on Monday. Maryland added 1,923 cases and 16 deaths, Virginia had 1,893 cases and four deaths, and D.C. recorded 104 cases and no additional deaths.

Neil J. Sehgal, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Maryland, said it could be weeks before spikes in cases are seen that stem from Thanksgiving holiday travel. Health experts had long cautioned residents to avoid traveling over the traditionally busy period — and also to avoid hosting gatherings at home.

“With the public attitude we saw towards travel over Thanksgiving, it’s very hard to think we won’t see an impact,” Sehgal said. “Cases will undoubtedly increase in the D.C. region.”

Maryland health officials said Monday a child died Sunday of the coronavirus, becoming the pandemic’s youngest victim in the state. Officials didn’t release the child’s age, saying only that the victim was 9 or younger. No other information was available about the child or the nature of the death.

As caseloads continue to jump, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) wrote Monday to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, saying the state’s top priority is another wave of stimulus funding to help with the coronavirus fight.

Hogan, who has advocated for more federal funding since the spring, told the transition team that small businesses, as well as state and local governments, need money soon. Many state and local governments, which are unable to carry a budget deficit, face significant shortfalls as tax revenue declines and price tags rise for the public health response to the pandemic.

“States are already fighting an uphill battle to rebuild our economies and maintain services in education, health care, emergency operations and public safety,” Hogan wrote. “Without federal assistance, we could be forced to consider furloughs and job cuts, halts to construction, reductions in government services, and other measures that will cause an increase in unemployment and further delay the economic recovery.”

Hogan’s request comes as officials across the region make similar pleas for additional federal relief. Attorneys general from D.C., Maryland and Virginia on Monday joined 40 others to ask Congress for an extension to Cares Act funding, which otherwise would expire at the end of the year.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said the administration has “repeatedly pushed for more stimulus funding” and is working closely with the Biden administration and the state’s congressional delegation to secure it.

John Falcicchio, chief of staff for Bowser, said the District has been in touch with Biden’s transition team to discuss additional aid but had not yet made a formal request.

Bowser on Monday also announced a $10 million fund for housing stabilization grants to aid residents and affordable housing providers who have struggled to keep up with rent payments because of the virus. The new grants, funded through the Cares Act, will cover delinquent rent accrued from April 1.

The grants will cover up to $2,000, with the city contributing 80 percent on the condition that housing providers forgive the remaining 20 percent, as well as any unpaid fees.

Applications for the grants open Tuesday and will be assessed on a rolling basis before they close Dec. 11.

Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.

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