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

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

By the numbers: On average, roughly 170,000 people per day were diagnosed with coronavirus infections over the past week.

  • That’s a new record, a 9.7% increase over last week, and the 11th straight week that the U.S. has been heading in the wrong direction.
  • The number of new daily cases increased in 28 states.
  • Testing was up significantly — by about 16% — over the past week, potentially driven by pre-Thanksgiving precautions. The U.S. is now conducting nearly 1.8 million COVID-19 tests per day.

Between the lines: The U.S. outbreak is worse than it might look on this map.

  • Our map is a snapshot of change over the past week, and a handful of states are doing better this week than they did last week. But they are, for the most part, states that have seen astronomical increases throughout the fall.
  • Iowa, for example, is now averaging about 2,800 new infections per day. That’s an 18% improvement over last week, but it’s still about 250% higher than where Iowa stood at the beginning of October and leaves the state with far too many cases.
  • Hospitals remain overwhelmed in some parts of the country, especially in rural areas.

What’s next: Infections and hospitalizations are already skyrocketing nationwide, and experts fear that the Thanksgiving holiday could give it even more fuel as people travel and gather indoors.

  • It can take a while for waves of new cases to show up in the data, because most people don’t experience symptoms right away.
  • The holiday will probably lead to some additional reporting delays and other data quirks over the next few weeks, as the COVID Tracking Project notes. If there is a Thanksgiving-driven surge in new cases, it may not show up in these statistics until mid-December.

The bottom line: Cases are still rising nationally and are still at crisis levels in several hard-hit states. Cases and hospitalizations are both at record highs. This is going to be a long, dark winter.

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

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.

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.