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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

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.