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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. is careening toward more than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths a day, and could soon surpass the record set in the spring, The Atlantic reports.

The big picture: Even with treatment advances, a certain portion of people who are infected with the virus will eventually die. When you multiply this percentage by today's number of cases, the results are extremely grim.

Details: Over the last four months, the virus has killed at least 1.5% of Americans diagnosed with it. (The real fatality rate is likely lower, as many cases go undetected.)

  • "[P]redicting the virus's death toll in the near term has become a matter of brutal arithmetic: 150,000 cases a day, times 1.5 percent, will lead to 2,250 daily deaths," The Atlantic writes.
  • In April, the seven-day average of daily deaths hit a peak of 2,116.
  • It takes weeks for the number of deaths to reflect today's number of cases.

Between the lines: Part of the reason the death rate appears to have fallen drastically since the spring is that we're testing so many more people, including those with mild infections.

  • And while treatments have improved, good care is dependent on health care workers being available to give it. But hospitals across the country are becoming overwhelmed by the virus and suffering from staffing shortages.

What we're watching: Within the next month, significantly more Americans are likely to die every two days than died on 9/11. It's unclear whether that will be enough to cause the country to change direction.

Go deeper

The pandemic is causing an unprecedented drop in health spending

Expand chart
Reproduced from Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has caused national health care spending to go down this year — the first time that’s ever happened.

The big picture: Any big recession depresses the use of health services because people have less money to spend. But this pandemic has also directly attacked the health system, causing people to defer or skip care for fear of becoming infected.

Updated 16 hours ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.K. government announced Wednesday it approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.