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Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Texas added a backlog of cases on Sept. 22, removing that from the 7-day average Texas' cases increased 28.3%; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The coronavirus is surging once again across the U.S., with cases rising in 22 states over the past week.

The big picture: There isn't one big event or sudden occurrence that explains this increase. We simply have never done a very good job containing the virus, despite losing 200,000 lives in just the past six months, and this is what that persistent failure looks like.

By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging roughly 43,000 new cases per day, a 16% increase from a week ago.

  • The biggest increases are largely concentrated in the West and Midwest, though Maine and New Jersey also saw their new infections tick up over the past week.
  • Seven states — Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Texas, Utah and Wyoming — saw their daily infections rise by at least 60% over the past week.

Testing was up by almost 22% over the same period. The U.S. is now conducting about 860,000 coronavirus tests per day.

What's next: There's every reason to believe the next several months will be a particularly high-risk period.

  • Colder weather will cause people to move indoors, where the virus spreads more easily. People will travel and see friends and family over the holidays. Mask adherence is already only so-so. And flu season will set in at the same time.
  • The best way to manage that risk is to enter into it with a low number of cases.
  • The NIH's Anthony Fauci has said cases should ideally be below 10,000 per day heading into the fall. But we haven't been able to consistently keep them under 40,000.

The bottom line: The U.S. is racing toward a vaccine, and doctors are getting better at treating the virus. But Americans, overall, are pretty bad at doing the simple things necessary to contain the virus, save lives and make us all safer.

How it works: 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

Dec 31, 2020 - Health

U.S. set to end 2020 with just over 3 million vaccine doses administered

A healthcare worker hands Patrick Range, Sr., 88, a vaccination card after giving him the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami on Dec. 30. Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Americans received just over 3 million initial doses of coronavirus vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech in the 19 days following first shipments, according to a Bloomberg tally of government websites and CDC data.

Why it matters: It's far below Operation Warp Speed's goal of administering 20 million doses by the end of the year, raising concerns about how long it may be until enough people are vaccinated in the U.S. for life to return to normal.

Dec 31, 2020 - Health

WHO lists Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

A healthcare worker giving a patient a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in Florida on Dec. 30. Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Thursday listed Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The approval — the WHO's first for a coronavirus vaccine — may allow some countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes so they can import and administer the vaccine quicker, the WHO said.

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.