Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

No state in America could clear the threshold right now to safely allow indoor gatherings.

The big picture: This is bad as the pandemic has ever been — the most cases, the most explosive growth and the greatest strain on hospitals. If businesses were closed right now, it would not be safe to reopen them. And holiday travel will be risky no matter where you’re coming from or where you’re going.

By the numbers: Over the past week, the U.S. averaged more than 154,000 new cases per day, the highest rate of the entire pandemic.

  • The number of new infections rose in 46 states, held steady in three, and declined in only one — Hawaii.
  • This week's nationwide totals are a 30% increase over last week, which was a 40% increase over the week before that. Daily infections have been rising by at least 15% for the past six weeks.
  • Testing was up about 11% over the past week. The U.S. is now conducting about 1.5 million tests per day. That’s a lot, but cases clearly are still rising faster than testing.

Between the lines: Whatever metric you might use to decide whether it’s safe to have a large Thanksgiving get-together, or to sit inside a bar or restaurant, the answer is probably no.

  • Experts recently told The Atlantic that they wouldn’t feel comfortable attending an indoor dinner party at all, but that it would be least risky in areas with only about 10-25 new cases per day, per 100,000 people.
  • At most, only about 27% of American counties meet that standard.

Back in the spring, when businesses were closed and the Trump administration laid out the criteria for opening them, it said states should only open restaurants after seeing a 14-day decline in new infections — and even then, only at highly limited capacity.

  • That was then and this is now, but if you consider that measurement as a rough guide for safety, it’s a bar the U.S. absolutely cannot clear: No state has seen two straight weeks of improvement since September.
  • Reopening was also supposed to be conditioned on hospitals’ capacity, which is now nearing a breaking point in many parts of the country.

The CDC’s travel guidelines aren’t as specific, but they advise Americans to consider both their potential exposure at home and the caseload at their destination.

  • Outbreaks are bad and getting steadily worse in every state except Hawaii, so as long as you’re not coming from or going to Hawaii, both your starting point and your destination would be in high-risk states, no matter where you’re going.

The bottom line: Eating and drinking indoors with large groups of people, at a time when 150,000 people are contracting the virus every day, is about as risky as it gets.

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 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Jan 22, 2021 - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Jan 22, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives

President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci acknowledged on CNN's "New Day" Friday that the Trump administration's resistance to following the science on coronavirus policy "very likely" cost lives.

Why it matters: Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, clashed on numerous occasions with former President Trump after contradicting him on scientific issues like the efficacy of masks and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in combating COVID-19.