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Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, Census Bureau; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Daily coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday, when roughly 2,800 people died from the virus.

The big picture: Caseloads and hospitalizations continue to rise, and deaths are spiking in states all across the country.

By the numbers: The states with the highest death tolls from the virus, adjusted for population, are still the ones that were hit hard by the first wave of infections in the spring.

  • New York saw 38.9 deaths per 1 million people in April, followed by New Jersey (37.5) and Connecticut (33.4).
  • But more states are now catching up to those totals.
  • North and South Dakota, which saw surges in the fall, recorded 24.1 and 30.4 daily deaths in November — the fourth and fifth highest state peaks to date.
  • Twelve states and Puerto Rico have hit new daily death records just this week.

What's happening: As Americans continue to disregard mitigation strategies and become infected in record numbers, hospitals around the country are facing staff shortages, meaning the quality and availability of treatment is decreasing.

  • And while there are promising new pharmaceutical treatments on the market, there's not nearly enough for everyone.
  • That means that death rates can get as high as we let them, and in many states, they're currently trending in the wrong direction.

The bottom line: At this point, there's no good reason to think that America is going to control the virus, meaning that thousands of lives are on the line every day until a vaccine is widely available to vulnerable populations.

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 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.