Good morning — it’s Thursday. Grab your coffee or tea. Here’s the latest news from around the Washington region. Looking for Friday’s news? Join us here.
Here are the top stories for Thursday
11:37 AM: Prince George’s County to eliminate indoor dining next week
Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) said Thursday that indoor dining will be eliminated at 5 p.m. Wednesday through at least Jan. 16. Outdoor dining will still be allowed at 50 percent capacity.
She said casinos and retail establishments will be limited to 25 percent capacity.
“The numbers that we are seeing tell us we are headed in the wrong direction and that we need to take swift and quick actions right now,” Alsobrooks said at a news conference.
The test positivity rate in the county has jumped to 10.1 percent, she said.
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) also will announce tighter restrictions Thursday.
Read more about coronavirus cases in Maryland:
By: Rachel Chason
10:55 AM: Luka Garza has gone from D.C. basketball star to college basketball’s leading man
Luka Garza remembers the day his name appeared on ESPN’s list of the top 100 basketball recruits in the Class of 2017. He was No. 100.
And yet, that ranking signified another landmark for a player who had been a slow-moving bench resident just a few years before, had averaged four points as a freshman at Maret School in D.C. and had been told by numerous coaches that his best hope was becoming a role player.
Now, there was his name, listed on the screen among the biggest and buzziest prospects in the country. He looked at it with pride: “Luke Garza.”
“Yeah, it was spelled wrong,” Garza said recently. “And I was looking at that list and I knew there were a lot of guys ahead of me that I felt strongly I was better than. I was honored to be a part of it, but there were a lot of things that filled me with motivation as a player.”
Four years later, Garza’s name is well known to most college basketball fans. The Iowa forward might be the game’s biggest returning attraction this season, coming off a junior campaign in which he garnered national player of the year honors and earned a spot on all-American teams.
It has been a stunning ascendance for the 6-foot-11 Northern Virginia native.
By: Michael Errigo
10:40 AM: Carter would make history lighting a Hanukkah menorah. But first, he needed a longer match.
President Jimmy Carter put on a dark overcoat on the evening of Dec. 17, 1979, walked across Pennsylvania Avenue and arrived at Lafayette Square to perform an act no president had ever publicly done.
He prepared to light a menorah in commemoration of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.
For weeks, Carter had been largely holed up in the White House because of the Iranian hostage crisis, a saga marked nightly by television shows such as “America Held Hostage.” But now he emerged, urged on by a Jewish aide who had fought for a menorah to have equal rights with a Christmas tree.
There was one problem. The silver menorah, shielded from the wind by a tall, narrow glass enclosure, was too deep to be easily lit with a tiny match. A Secret Service agent hurried to a Scandinavian design store one block from the White House called the Midnight Sun, owned by my mother, a Jew who well understood the moment’s importance. She retrieved a box of Swedish eight-inch-long matches from a display case, and the agent hustled back to Lafayette Square.
In this small way, as I learned much later, my mother, Allye Kranish, played a part in a revealing moment in our nation’s history.
By: Michael Kranish
10:28 AM: Washington region surpasses 10,000 covid-19 deaths
Coronavirus deaths in D.C., Maryland and Virginia surpassed 10,000 on Thursday, a somber marker of the region’s failure to contain the crisis.
The District reported four new deaths, for a total of 708. Virginia reported 54 deaths, for a total of 4,335. Maryland reported 50 deaths, bringing its total fatalities to 5,012.
Those who died in the District, Maryland and Virginia were activists, writers, firefighters and pastors. They worked in grocery stores, drove public buses and taught children.
Read about their lives here.
Reported cases Thursday: 244
Reported deaths Thursday: 4
In the past seven days, D.C. has reported 1,943 new cases.
Reported cases Thursday: 3,202
Reported deaths Thursday: 50
In the past seven days, Maryland has reported 18,959 new cases.
Reported cases for Thursday: 3,915
Reported deaths for Thursday: 54
In the past seven days, Virginia has reported 26,540 new cases.
Every day, The Post is tracking the number of reported coronavirus cases in the Washington region. The case numbers have spiked to record levels this fall and experts say worst is yet to come. Follow the trends here.
Read more about coronavirus cases in the DMV:
By: Rebecca Tan
10:03 AM: The Wizards’ Deni Avdija is an old pro at being a rookie
There is at least one way that 6-foot-9 Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija is a lot like an ordinary 19-year-old. This year, he’s a freshman again.
Avdija is at the beginning of his second rookie season in a professional basketball league after experiencing his first three years ago as the youngest to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv’s senior team in the Israeli Premier League. It’s there that he learned the professionalism that Wizards Coach Scott Brooks so raves about, as well as critical non-basketball skills such as how to communicate with co-workers 10 years his senior.
He also got used to the hazing.
“We didn’t have rookie duties overseas, but guys were definitely hazing me: tying my shoes together, taping my locker up,” Avdija said with a laugh Wednesday during a virtual news conference. “I got hit with some thing, but not something like rookie duties with [wearing] the backpack and bringing food and stuff. … If I need to do it, I’ll do it out of love, you know. Those are my teammates.”
Avdija has gladly taken on Washington’s newbie burdens of wearing a kiddie backpack around and bringing the team food.
By: Ava Wallace
9:40 AM: Those we have lost to the coronavirus in Virginia, Maryland and D.C.
The number of known coronavirus cases in the District, Maryland and Virginia has surpassed 500,000. More than 10,000 people across the area have died of covid-19. Among the victims have been teachers, nurses, veterans, small-business owners and government workers. Here are their stories.
Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Tell The Washington Post. We’re reporting on the lives of the victims and the impact they had in their communities.
Read their stories:
By: Washington Post Staff
9:21 AM: ‘No safety net’ and little sympathy. Some small landlords struggle under eviction moratoriums.
Archie Djabatey climbed the narrow stairwell and stopped on the second-floor landing. It was a tight space for the wide-shouldered 35-year-old. The two facing apartment doors were only a few steps apart. Before entering his own unit, Djabatey’s eyes paused on the door opposite, where the sounds of a television leaked into the hallway.
“You want to help, but it’s also a business,” Djabatey said once his own door was closed, the noise from the neighbor still pushing through the wall. “That’s the way it is.”
Djabatey was not a typical resident in this small four-unit building in Northeast Washington’s Deanwood neighborhood. He was also the owner. With a mix of optimism and an eye for how gentrification was changing the District, he had hoped this property would prove to be the “start of my legacy for my future kids.”
But Djabatey’s aspirations of riding the District’s real estate market to a measure of financial security that he didn’t know growing up in Southeast D.C. are now complicated. The long-term cause is the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The short-term problem, however, was across the hallway.
In February, Djabatey won an eviction case against a tenant for failure to pay rent, the end of a saga that included claims of drug use, strangers allegedly spinning through the tenant’s apartment at all hours and complaints from his other residents.
But then the pandemic interrupted the legal process, and nine months later the tenant was still there rent-free, leaving Djabatey, a government contractor with the Federal Protective Service, without the monthly $1,002 rent to cover his own mortgage payments. “It’s coming out of my pocket,” he said. “I’m in a very tight situation.”
By: Kyle Swenson
9:05 AM: Hogan and other top Maryland officials are targeted by fraudsters filing unemployment claims
Gov. Larry Hogan, Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford and seven members of Hogan’s Cabinet, including Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson, were targeted by fraudsters who filed unemployment claims using their personal information, the state Labor Department announced Wednesday.
The unemployment claims used a combination of names, birthdays, addresses and — in some cases — Social Security numbers of the top Maryland officials to try to cash in on benefits, Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said.
“This kind of fraud truly can happen to anyone, and we need to remain vigilant,” Hogan (R) tweeted.
Fallon Pearre, a spokeswoman for the state Labor Department, said the Maryland State Police and the U.S. Labor Department’s inspector general’s office are investigating.
Ricci said the claims passed the initial verification process. They were later flagged, and no benefits were paid.
“Pre-pandemic, these claims actually would have been caught and flagged earlier,” Ricci said in a statement. “But given that there are minimal checks and balances around these federal pandemic programs, and people want us to pay claims as automatically as possible, the claims began to make their way through the system.”
Read more reporting from Maryland:
By: Ovetta Wiggins
8:43 AM: Terry McAuliffe, in announcing bid for Virginia governor, focuses on education while nodding to Democrats’ leftward shift
RICHMOND — Democrat Terry McAuliffe launched his long-teased comeback bid for governor Wednesday, casting himself as a “bold” but tested leader who can address stubborn social inequities as he rebuilds a post-pandemic Virginia.
“I am running for governor again to think big, and to be bold, and to take the commonwealth of Virginia to the next level — and to lift up all Virginians,” he said at a Richmond elementary school, a location meant to signal a commitment to education.
McAuliffe, 63, made a wide-ranging pitch, promising to build a “stronger and fairer” economy, continue the fight for civil rights, ensure access to affordable health care and boost wages, affordable housing and clean energy. But his focus Wednesday was education, as he rolled out a detailed, $2 billion-a-year plan to raise teacher pay above the national average, get every student online and expand preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds.
Through campaign adviser Jake Rubenstein, McAuliffe later in the day made another promise: to refuse any campaign money from Dominion Energy, the state’s largest utility and most prolific political donor.
Swearing off Dominion money has been a point of pride for many of the state’s Democrats in recent years, as the party has shifted leftward and has become less accommodating to the utility giant. But the pledge was new for McAuliffe, who has been socially liberal but friendly to business.
Read more on Virginia’s governor race:
By: Laura Vozzella
8:35 AM: Two people killed in separate incidents in Southeast D.C.
Two people were fatally shot Wednesday night and early Thursday in Southeast Washington, according to D.C. police.
The shooting Wednesday night occurred shortly before 9:30 p.m. in the 1000 block of 13th Street SE, near Potomac Gardens. Police said a man was fatally injured and another man was wounded and taken to a hospital with injuries described as not life threatening.
Shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday, police said a male was fatally shot in the 3200 block of 23rd Street SE, in the Shipley neighborhood.
Police did not immediately provide further details but said additional information would be made available later Thursday. The identities of the victims were not made public pending notification of relatives.
By: Peter Hermann
8:28 AM: Child dies after car slides on ice and crashes into vehicle in Fairfax
Authorities said a driver lost control of his car on an ice-covered section of road and crashed into a vehicle, killing a child, in Fairfax County.
The crash happened about 7 a.m. Wednesday on Richmond Highway near Mount Eagle Drive, according to Fairfax County police.
An initial investigation found the driver of a Ford Crown Victoria was northbound on Richmond Highway when he lost control on an ice-covered part of the road. He drove into the southbound lanes and crashed into a Hyundai Elantra that was carrying the child.
Police said a woman who was driving the Elantra and the child were taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The child later died.
A teenager who also was in the Elantra and the driver of the Crown Victoria were taken to a hospital with “injuries that were not life-threatening,” police said in a statement.
Detectives are continuing to investigate other possible factors in the crash.
By: Dana Hedgpeth
8:20 AM: Q&A: Admission reforms at Fairfax magnet school
After months of debate, Fairfax County school officials are proposing final options for reforming admissions at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology — either switching to a lottery system or adopting a “holistic review,” revisions meant to boost diversity at the flagship STEM magnet school.
Under the suggested lottery system, the 100 “highest-evaluated” applicants would earn places at the school, while the remaining 450 seats would be filled through a random lottery of all qualified eighth-graders. Under the “holistic review” proposal, all 550 students would be admitted through the evaluation process.
The Fairfax County School Board is slated to vote and choose an option later this month.
The Washington Post’s Hannah Natanson covers K-12 schools in Virginia and answered a few questions about the reforms.
Q: What’s behind the reforms at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax? Who’s criticizing the current admissions system?
A: Thomas Jefferson, known as TJ, is nationally known for failing to enroll Black and Hispanic students: Since its founding in 1985, the school has enrolled single-digit percentages of Black and Hispanic children. Community concern and anger has been simmering for a long time, but it rose to a boiling point this summer following nationwide protests of the death of George Floyd — and after Fairfax County Public Schools released data showing that TJ’s Class of 2024 included fewer than 10 Black students. Alumni, parents and students have since banded together to demand that TJ change its admissions process to make it more equitable, and the school more diverse.
Q: Has anyone shared what they think of the proposed reforms?
A: The proposed reforms have divided the community. Students, parents and TJ graduates in favor argue that, although imperfect, the reforms represent the best chance to enact real change — after more than a decade of previous, failed attempts to boost diversity — at a moment when there is momentum and will among top administrators to do so. But those against argue that it is a poor idea to alter the admissions system so abruptly and radically, without fully grasping the possible consequences. They are especially incensed by the idea of the proposed “merit-based lottery” system of admissions, which they argue will deprive hard-working and talented students of their spots at the prestigious school, force unqualified kids into an academic environment far too rigorous for them and ultimately drive down TJ’s stellar rating.
Q: Could the reforms at Thomas Jefferson lead to changes elsewhere in Fairfax or Virginia? Or, is the magnet school a unique example?
A: So far, the TJ reforms have not directly led to changes elsewhere in the state. But it’s notable that, in late November, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office determined that the Academies of Loudoun — an elite STEM magnet school in neighboring Loudoun County — discriminates against Black and Hispanic students in its admissions process.
By: Hannah Natanson
8:17 AM: The current restrictions in Maryland as coronavirus numbers rise
The coronavirus is coursing through Maryland, prompting state and local leaders to reimpose restrictions. Infection rates and hospitalizations are up. Here’s an explanation of what is — and isn’t — allowed in the state.
What are the current restrictions in Maryland?
- Restaurants and bars are forbidden to serve patrons indoors after 10 p.m. Before then, restaurants may serve seated guests only in groups of six or fewer.
- Indoor capacity at restaurants, other businesses, gyms and religious organizations will be capped at 50 percent.
- Statewide, officials recommend that no indoor social gatherings exceed 25 people. Some of the state’s most populous jurisdictions, including Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, have taken that restriction further.
- In-person visits to nursing homes have been limited to “compassion care” visits only, and visitors will need to be tested beforehand.
By: Erin Cox
7:56 AM: Police arrest suspect in fatal shooting of construction worker in Northeast Washington
Police on Wednesday arrested a suspect in the shooting of a 48-year-old construction worker who authorities said was killed during a robbery while he was renovating a home last month in Northeast Washington.
George Miller, 26, of Capitol Heights, Md., was charged in a warrant with first-degree murder while armed, according to D.C. police. He was arrested by members of the Capital Area Fugitive Regional Task Force.
Miller could make an initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday, when additional details of the shooting would be made public. It could not immediately be determined whether Miller has an attorney.
The victim, Elias Flores of Adelphi, Md., was shot the afternoon of Nov. 18 in the 1600 block of Olive Street NE. His son, Luis Flores, said his father owned a construction company and was renovating a home on that block.
By: Peter Hermann
7:43 AM: House approves one-week spending bill as stimulus talks drag on
The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a one-week extension in funding for the federal government, a move aimed at giving lawmakers more time to hammer out agreements on spending bills and emergency economic relief.
Congressional leaders advanced the short-term extension in federal funding as negotiations over an emergency economic relief package appeared to falter and prospects of a major breakthrough dimmed. The measure passed by a 343-to-67 vote.
Appropriators have continued to make progress on a set of spending bills to fund federal agencies, with only a few outstanding policy issues left to be resolved by congressional leaders, aides involved in the deliberations said. But talks on the broader stimulus package seemed at risk of breaking down after the White House on Tuesday proposed a relief bill that would offer only minimal benefits to unemployed Americans, a nonstarter for congressional Democrats.
What’s in the $908 billion economic relief proposal
The short-term spending bill is expected to quickly move to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has signaled he will hold a vote ahead of Friday’s deadline. If President Trump doesn’t sign the measure into law by midnight Friday, a government shutdown would commence Saturday morning.
By: Jeff Stein and Mike DeBonis
7:28 AM: Find the spirit of the holidays — virtually or in real life — with this day-by-day guide to D.C. events
The lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, and the resulting traffic jams. The model-train display at the U.S. Botanic Garden. “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre. Singing along with Handel’s “Messiah” at the Kennedy Center after waiting in the long line for free tickets.
For many people who live in the Washington area, these annual events are as much a part of the holidays as gathering around a table with family. You may have gone to them as a child. You may have taken your own children, too.
But this year, the National Christmas Tree’s lights were switched on during an online ceremony. There’s no “Messiah” at the Kennedy Center. The stage at Ford’s Theatre will be dark and empty.
Don’t worry: The coronavirus, like the Grinch, can’t steal the true spirit of the season. We may admire colorful light displays from the safety of our cars, or watch the Rat King leap across our television screens, but there is no shortage of opportunities to feel merry and bright. For every day from Black Friday to Christmas Day, we’ve found at least one seasonal experience taking place virtually or in real life. To make celebrating even easier, many of the virtual events are available for more than one night, in case they conflict with a work holiday party on Zoom — or you need an excuse to duck out early. (Even in a pandemic, some things never change.)
Here are some holiday events around D.C.:
By: Fritz Hahn
7:10 AM: Montgomery County proposes eliminating indoor dining as coronavirus cases surge
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) on Wednesday proposed banning all indoor dining.
He made the proposal as the seven-day average of new daily infections surged to a record Wednesday across the greater Washington region. Maryland, Virginia and D.C. each saw new highs in their recent caseloads.
In Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction, Elrich’s executive order would eliminate indoor dining and cut capacity at retail establishments to one customer per 200 square feet — a change from one customer per 200 square feet or 25 percent capacity. The order also states that nonprofessional sports are “social gatherings,” limiting such gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Elrich announced the proposed order on a call with leaders of the state’s eight largest jurisdictions. It still must still be approved by the County Council, which hasn’t previously rejected proposed restrictions in the county.
The council is scheduled to vote Tuesday, and if approved, the measure would take effect at 5 p.m. that day.
Read more about coronavirus cases in Maryland:
By: Erin Cox, Rachel Chason, Julie Zauzmer and Patricia Sullivan
6:55 AM: Virginia legislator, a self-proclaimed socialist, files paperwork for gubernatorial bid
Virginia Del. Lee J. Carter has filed paperwork to raise money for a bid for governor, a move that means a self-proclaimed socialist could join an already crowded field of Democrats that now includes former governor Terry McAuliffe.
On Wednesday, Carter (D-Manassas) said he had not yet decided whether to run but chose to file the paperwork to keep that option open if he feels the other candidates do not advocate strongly enough for workers’ rights and other liberal issues.
Besides McAuliffe, who announced his bid Wednesday, the field of Democratic candidates includes Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William), who this week announced she was leaving her seat to campaign full time.
On the Republican side, there are two declared candidates: Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), the former speaker of the House of Delegates, and state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield), who said Saturday she will run as an independent.
Read more from The Post:
By: Antonio Olivo
6:39 AM: Johns Hopkins, benefactor of namesake hospital and university, was an enslaver
Johns Hopkins, the 19th-century businessman who bequested a fortune to found the hospital and university in Baltimore that bear his name, enslaved at least four Black people before the Civil War, school officials disclosed Wednesday.
Newly unearthed census records show Hopkins, who amassed wealth as a merchant and railroad investor, held one person as property in 1840 and four people in 1850, according to Johns Hopkins University officials. Census records listed no enslaved people in the Hopkins household as of 1860.
Maryland, where Hopkins lived, permitted slavery.
The revelation, the latest in a series in recent years showing how deeply the roots of American higher education were entwined with slavery, cast a new and harsh historical light on the philanthropist Hopkins and the origin story behind an institution considered the nation’s first research university.
Read more from The Post:
By: Nick Anderson, Lauren Lumpkin and Susan Svrluga
6:20 AM: Baltimore shuts down indoor and outdoor dining as region’s coronavirus cases surge
Baltimore’s new mayor announced the most restrictive coronavirus measures in Maryland on Wednesday, including shutting down all indoor and outdoor dining.
Mayor Brandon Scott (D) said tougher restrictions on places where the virus is most likely to spread must be implemented to stave off a catastrophe at hospitals. The restrictions, which go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, also shut down bar service, movie theaters, adult entertainment venues and hookah bars.
Maryland broke a record Wednesday for coronavirus-related hospitalizations that had stood since May, with 1,715 people needing treatment.
Scott said more restrictions could be on the way if the city’s infection rate does not abate.
“Baltimore, we’re still in a pandemic. And to be honest, some of us aren’t acting like it,” Scott said at a news conference.
Scott also capped capacity at 25 percent for religious institutions, retail establishments, hair salons and barbershops, gyms, the Maryland Zoo, and the city’s casino, which is also prohibited from selling food and drinks.
Statewide and in Baltimore, the daily coronavirus infection rate has tripled since Nov. 1, rising from about 14 people per 100,000 residents to 45 as of Wednesday.
Read more about coronavirus cases in the DMV:
By: Patricia Sullivan and Erin Cox
6:10 AM: D.C.-area forecast: Milder sunshine today with an even warmer weekend
The Capital Weather Gang rates today’s weather a 6/10: Sunny as a rule and not quite as cool. The daily digit is a somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather.
Today: Sunshine is in abundance for a change and helps to quickly take the edge off the chilly start to the day. Highs are mainly in the lower 50s, with light winds from the northwest. Confidence: High
Tonight: The stars are twinkling bright with nary a cloud in sight. South winds are minimal. Lows slip to near 30 in our colder spots to the mid- to upper 30s downtown. Confidence: High
Tomorrow (Friday): Sunny skies prevail much of the day. Highs in the mid- to upper 50s are a treat for this time of year. Winds from the south are generally light. Confidence: High
By: David Streit
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By: Teddy Amenabar