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

New coronavirus infections surged by roughly 20% over the past week as cases continued to climb in every region of the country.

Why it matters: All signs indicate that the pandemic will keep getting worse throughout the winter, making it harder and harder to eventually control — even if there's a new president, and even with a vaccine.

By the numbers: Over the past seven days, the U.S. averaged about 85,000 new cases per day. That's a 20% increase from the week before, and it's the highest caseload of the entire pandemic.

  • Cases rose in 35 states, held steady in 10 and declined in just five.
  • The pandemic continued to get worse in almost every critical swing state as Election Day approached. The number of new infections rose over the past week by 14% in Wisconsin, 16% in Florida, 21% in Pennsylvania, 37% in Ohio and 56% in Michigan.

Testing improved over the same period. The U.S. is now conducting over 1.2 million tests per day. That's a 5% increase over the week before — hardly enough to explain the much larger surge in cases.

What we're watching: Hospitalizations are also on the rise nationwide, prompting renewed fears in some pockets of the country that local hospital capacity won't be able to handle the rising tide of the pandemic.

  • Most experts believe the virus will continue to gain a bigger and bigger foothold over the winter, killing thousands of people.

What's next: Joe Biden has vowed to change America's course in the pandemic.

  • But the outbreak will likely be so much worse by Inauguration Day, and politically motivated resistance to public health measures is already so deeply entrenched, that a vaccine may be the only real way to accomplish that.

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 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.