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Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections slowed by nearly 16% over the past week, continuing a trend of rapid improvement.

The big picture: The U.S. still has a ton of coronavirus, and there’s still the potential for dark days ahead. But this is progress, and the improvement is significant. If this trend keeps going, the country will be in a far better and safer position as vaccines continue to roll out.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the U.S. is averaging about 139,000 new cases per day — a 16% improvement over last week, which was a 16% improvement over the week before.

  • The number of new hospitalizations was also down last week, by just over 26%.
  • And deaths fell by about 6%, to an average of 3,097 deaths per day.

Between the lines: 139,000 cases and 3,000 deaths per day is still a very bad pandemic, but at least the numbers are headed in the right direction.

  • The U.S. is back at about the same caseload we were experiencing shortly before Thanksgiving.
  • The number of new daily cases fell over the past week in 42 states, and held steady in the remaining eight states. No state got worse — another sign that this improvement could be sustainable.

Yes, but: Experts warn that a more contagious variant of the virus is quickly becoming the dominant strain within the U.S.

  • As it gains more ground, each infected person is more likely to infect others. And because the U.S. still has so many infected people, that could cause cases to spike again.
  • But the best protection against another surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths is to get cases down and keep them there — and that’s what we’re doing.

Each week, Axios tracks the change in new infections in each state. We use a seven-day average to minimize the effects of day-to-day discrepancies in states’ reporting.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas — Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. Economy: Report: World's 10 richest men doubled wealth during pandemicAmerica's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  7. Variant tracker
Feb 3, 2021 - Health

Biden admin to open first mass COVID vaccination sites in California

A "super site" COVID-19 vaccination event by the San Bernardino County health department on Feb. 2 in Fontana, California. Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The first federally organized mass coronavirus vaccination sites are expected to open in Oakland and Los Angeles, California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Although cases and hospitalizations are dropping in the state, coronavirus deaths remain steady. The state has reported over 3.3 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic — the most of any state in the U.S., per Johns Hopkins data.

Feb 3, 2021 - Health

Fauci pleads: Skip the Super Bowl parties

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden administration would really prefer that people "lay low" on Super Bowl Sunday.

Why it matters: This is the first national event that features multi-family gatherings since New Year's, with growing concerns about the COVID-19 variants.