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People wearing facemasks line up at a COVID-19 testing site at Orlando International Airport. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The United States hit 100,000 new confirmed daily COVID-19 infections on Saturday, a milepost last hit during the pre-vaccine winter virus surge, AP reports.

The big picture: Health officials worry that the new average infection rate, which is largely driven by the highly contagious delta variant, could rise if more Americans do not take the vaccine.

  • 50% of eligible adults are fully vaccinated and more than 70% have received at least one dose, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: Average daily cases peaked at about 250,000 in early January, per AP.

  • Cases started to bottom out this summer, and by June the average daily case rate was about 11,000 per day. Six weeks later, that number has soared to about 107,143, per AP.
  • Hospitalizations and deaths are also rising, but rates remain lower than the peaks that the country experienced earlier this year before vaccines were widely available, per AP.
  • In the South, which has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients jumped 50% to a daily average of 17,600 over the last week from 11,600 the previous week, per AP.
  • Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky account for 41% of the nation’s new hospitalizations.

Go deeper: Coronavirus dashboard

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Axios on HBO

Rand Paul claims vindication in battle with Anthony Fauci

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Mike Allen in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that President Biden should fire Anthony Fauci "just for lack of judgment, if nothing else."

The big picture: Paul claims vindication in his dispute with Fauci, played out at heated Senate hearings, over the level of risk of U.S.-funded research in Wuhan, where COVID began.

Murder rates in border cities lower than national average

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Even as the nation's homicide rate jumped in 2020 amid rising gun violence, the murder rate in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S. border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: The wide disparity between majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities and other similar-size cities further north conflicts with images and myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and disarray.

Oct 24, 2021 - World

U.S. calls on North Korea to stop missile tests, return to talks

U.S. special representative for North Korea Sung Kim (right), attends a press conference with Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs. Photo: Ahn Young-Joon - Pool/Getty Images

Senior U.S. diplomat Sung Kim called on North Korea to stop missile tests and resume nuclear negotiations Sunday, AP reports.

Driving the news: Kim's remarks come on the heels of the country's submarine-fired missile launch last week, which violated multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.