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Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. is doing almost as much testing as experts had predicted we'd need, and it's still far from enough given our enormous caseload — which the experts hadn't accounted for.

Driving the news: "In light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in states across the country, many labs are now receiving more test orders than they are able to process in a single day. We have urged ordering providers to prioritize testing for those most in need, especially hospitalized and symptomatic patients," Julie Khani, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association, said in a statement Tuesday

The bottom line: That means we're nearly back to where we started in March, when tests were limited to the sickest patients.

  • The point of building up testing capacity wasn't so that we could keep track of how many times states set new caseload records. It was so that we'd have information about the spread of the virus, and then act accordingly to stop it.
  • As cases began to rise last month, we failed to act accordingly.

Go deeper

Trump claims COVID "will go away," Biden calls his response disqualifying

President Trump repeated baseless claims at the final presidential debate that the coronavirus "will go away" and that the U.S. is "rounding the turn," while Joe Biden argued that any president that has allowed 220,000 Americans to die on his watch should not be re-elected.

Why it matters: The U.S. is now averaging about 59,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and added another 73,000 cases on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The country recorded 1,038 deaths due to the virus Thursday, the highest since late September.

How the coronavirus pandemic could end

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's still the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but history, biology and the knowledge gained from our first nine months with COVID-19 point to how the pandemic might end.

The big picture: Pandemics don't last forever. But when they end, it usually isn't because a virus disappears or is eliminated. Instead, they can settle into a population, becoming a constant background presence that occasionally flares up in local outbreaks.

Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Age is still a huge coronavirus risk factor — Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns.
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.