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

The pace of new coronavirus infections fell significantly over the past week, but the virus is still out of control, and a more contagious variant is gaining ground.

By the numbers: The U.S. averaged roughly 198,000 new cases per day in the final week of the Trump administration — a 19% drop from the week before, but still a ton of cases.

  • The number of new daily cases fell in 44 states, compared to the previous week. South Carolina and Virginia were the only states whose outbreaks got worse over the past week.
  • The U.S. is now conducting almost 2 million tests a day, on average.
  • Hospitalizations are generally holding steady. Roughly 123,000 people are in the hospital today for COVID-19 infections.

What’s next: There’s little reason to believe the U.S. is about to turn the corner on the pandemic, or that this one week of good news will make the Biden administration’s job any easier.

  • 198,000 cases per day is a staggering number of cases — more than enough to continue overwhelming hospitals in some parts of the country.
  • And experts say a more contagious variant of the coronavirus will soon become the dominant strain in the U.S., allowing the virus to spread even more easily.

As the winter surge peaks, “we may see 3-4 weeks of declines in new cases but then new variant will take over,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted recently. “It'll double in prevalence about every week. It'll change the game and could mean we have persistent high infection through spring until we vaccinate enough people.”

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 Mar 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.
Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

A group of undocumented immigrants walk toward a Customs and Border Patrol station after being apprehended. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.