October 15, 2020 at 12:22 AM EDT

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D.C. region’s coronavirus caseload hits two-month high; officials say small gatherings are fueling rise

By Julie Zauzmer and Ovetta Wiggins

The number of new coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region jumped to a two-month high Wednesday as D.C.’s top health official said small social gatherings are helping to fuel the virus’s spread.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases across Virginia, Maryland and the District stood at 1,801 — the highest since the average hit 1,916 cases Aug. 13. The increase has coincided with cooler temperatures and an outbreak at the White House, although local health officials say any connection to a late-September Rose Garden event is unclear.

Among patients who contracted the novel coronavirus in D.C. in the first week of October, nearly a quarter had attended a social gathering of at least five people in the two weeks before they got sick, D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said Wednesday. One out of five had eaten at a restaurant.

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