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Leading coronavirus modeling has recently lowered its projection for the number of American deaths, a sign that social distancing is working.

Data: IHME; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Between the lines: By the time we recognized that the virus was spreading in the U.S., we were left with two terrible options: Allow hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of Americans to die, or shut down the economy. We chose the latter, and the numbers are showing that our collective sacrifices have likely prevented the former, for now.

The bottom line: If we stop social distancing too early, or don't take the right precautions to prevent future outbreaks, the number of projected deaths could jump right back up.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases fell by 15% this week

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

New coronavirus infections fell by almost 15% over the past week, continuing a steady downward trend.

Why it matters: The standard caveats still apply — progress can always fall apart, the U.S. is climbing down from a very high number of cases, and this is far from over. But this is undeniably good news. Things are getting better.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."