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Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

America’s battle against the coronavirus is going great.

The big picture: For the first time in a long time, nobody needs to cherry-pick some misleading data to make it seem like things are going well, and the good news doesn’t need an endless list of caveats, either. It’s just really good news. We’re winning. Be happy.

By the numbers: The U.S. averaged fewer than 40,000 new cases per day over the past week.

  • That’s a 21% improvement over the week before, and the first time the daily average has dipped below 40,000 since September — eight months ago.
  • New cases declined last week in 37 states. Not a single state moved in the wrong direction.

Deaths from the coronavirus are at their lowest level since last July — about 600 per day, on average, per the AP, and may soon hit their lowest point of the entire pandemic. Nationally, hospitalization rates are also falling significantly.

The U.S. is finally winning its battle against COVID-19 thanks almost exclusively to one weapon: the vaccines.

  • More than 107 million Americans have gotten both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and the vaccination drive in the U.S. has been underway for nearly six months. All of that real-world experience has confirmed that the vaccines are highly effective, and it has produced no new safety concerns.
  • 99.7% of hospitalized coronavirus patients are unvaccinated, the Cleveland Clinic said this week — more real-world evidence that the vaccines prevent the type of serious infections that were killing over 3,000 Americans per day just a few months ago.

What’s next: Almost 60% of American adults have gotten at least one shot, and roughly 45% are fully vaccinated. The next step: vaxxing the 12- to 15-year-olds.

  • Demand seems to be slowing, but continuing to get more shots into more arms is essential to cementing America’s progress — and the safe return to work, school, restaurants and travel that can come with it.

Go deeper

Updated 22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Aug 20, 2021 - Health

Texas temporarily drops enforcement of ban on mask mandates

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

The Texas Education Agency said in new guidance Thursday that it will temporarily stop enforcing Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on public school districts imposing mask mandates, citing ongoing litigation.

Driving the news: The guidance came the same day that the Texas Supreme Court declined to uphold the mask ban over a technicality, sending the case down to an appeals court.

Aug 20, 2021 - Health

America's patchwork back-to-school plan

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Conflicting policies, fiery political debates and the continued spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 are sowing chaos and uncertainty into the back-to-school season.

Why it matters: This will be the third school year in a row with COVID-related disruptions. Many students have already suffered severe learning loss, and the gap between students could grow even wider, thanks to disparities in vaccinations and rising case counts.