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

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

In the final week before Election Day, new coronavirus infections have soared to an all-time high — virtually guaranteeing that the pandemic will be the most prominent issue in America as voters prepare to choose the next president.

The big picture: Cases are surging and local hospitals are straining at the very moment that voters are choosing between President Trump, who continues to insist that the pandemic is almost over, and Joe Biden, who has made the crisis a centerpiece of his campaign.

Where it stands: On average, nearly 72,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus every day over the past week. That’s the highest seven-day average on record.

  • Twice in the past week, the U.S. has set a new record for the most cases in a single day.
  • The virus gained strength over the past week in 41 states, including nearly every important battleground state.
  • New infections were up 16% in Arizona, 21% in Florida, 22% in Ohio, 23% in Wisconsin, 25% in Michigan and 33% in Pennsylvania.
  • The only exception was North Carolina, where infections held steady at about 2,200 per day.

What’s next: This third wave of infections is already beginning to strain hospitals’ resources in some parts of the country, and will inevitably lead to more deaths. It has already killed nearly 220,000 Americans.

  • Wisconsin, for example, reported new single-day records for cases, hospitalizations and deaths — all in the same day.
  • This will almost certainly get worse before it gets better. The virus is expected to spread more easily as colder weather causes people to move their socializing indoors.

The bottom line: Eight months into this pandemic, not only has the U.S. failed to contain the virus, it’s spreading faster than ever.

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 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.

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