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

Overall, new coronavirus infections in the U.S. are on the decline. But a small handful of states, mainly clustered in the South, aren't seeing any improvement.

The big picture: Our progress, nationwide, is of course good news. But it's fragile progress, and it’s not universal. Stubborn pockets of infection put lives at risk, and they can spread, especially as state lockdowns continue to ease.

Where it stands: Each week, Axios is tracking the change in confirmed coronavirus infections in every state.

  • We’re using a seven-day average, to minimize the distortions of reporting delays or similar technical issues.

Ten states have not seen a single week of significant improvement — their caseloads have either gotten worse or have held steady all month.

  • Most of them are in the South: Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
  • But a handful of other, more populous states —California, Minnesota and Wisconsin — also stand out for their consistently lagging progress. Maine and Utah also have not reported a single week of significant improvement.
  • Neither has Puerto Rico.

Between the lines: The number of total cases is a flawed but important metric.

  • The number of confirmed cases will go up as testing improves, so spikes in some areas may simply reflect a more accurate handle on the situation, and not a situation that’s getting worse.
  • Even so, to get this pandemic under control and safely continue getting back out into the world, we still need the total number of new cases to decline.

The other side: The areas making the most progress — those reporting the biggest, steadiest declines in new cases — are, for the most part, the places that had it worse to begin with.

  • New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts— all one-time hotspots — have reported fewer cases every week.
  • A handful of other states, including Colorado and Pennsylvania, have either gotten better or held steady each week.

What we’re watching: This analysis is a snapshot. Any number of states have seen their case numbers yo-yo — up one week and down the next, or vice versa.

  • Every reduction in new cases is a good sign, and there are a lot of those good signs, but we’re still not quite to the point of a sustained, across-the-board improvement.

Go deeper

Sep 9, 2020 - Health

The coronavirus and a $12 billion motorcycle rally

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The coronavirus outbreak tied to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., ended up generating more than $12 billion in public health costs, according to a new discussion paper.

Why it matters: The analysis puts a point on just how bad these superspreader events can be — and the difficulty of preventing them solely with voluntary policies.

America's great virtual-learning experiment faces glitches nationwide

Andrew Burstein logs onto his eighth-grade class in Delray Beach, Fla. Photo: Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

An estimated 62% of American schoolkids are starting the year virtually, with many of the rest facing the same fate should caseloads rise in their areas. Only 19% have in-person school every day, with another 18% in hybrid formats, according to a Burbio tracker.

The state of play, via the AP: Three of Texas’ largest school districts were hit with technical problems on the first day of classes, as were school systems in places such as Idaho and Kansas. North Carolina’s platform crashed on the first day of classes last month, and Seattle’s system crashed last week.