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

The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. continues to slow, driven by significant progress in the South and Southwest, where cases skyrocketed earlier this summer.

Why it matters: All of the second-order controversies consuming the U.S. — like whether to open schools for in-person instruction — would be easier to resolve if we could get the virus under control and keep it there.

The big picture: The number of new infections in the U.S. fell by nearly 8% over the past week — the fourth straight week of nationwide improvement.

  • Arizona and Florida, two of the biggest contributors to the explosion of new cases in June and July, recorded significant improvement this week. Cases were down 18% in Arizona and 25% in Florida.
  • The other big summer hotspots, California and Texas, held steady, while the hard-hit South improved overall.

By the numbers: The U.S. averaged just under 49,000 new cases per day over the past week — still a lot of cases, and far too many to declare any sort of victory over the coronavirus, but an improvement from the 65,000 daily cases we were averaging in mid-July.

  • Nationwide, testing held steady at roughly 722,000 tests per day.

Yes, but: New warning signs cropped up this week in Kentucky and a handful of Midwestern states.

  • As we’ve already learned multiple times throughout this pandemic, once the virus gains a new foothold, it can become highly mobile very quickly.

Between the lines: Each week, Axios tracks the change in new coronavirus infections from the week before, using a seven-day average to minimize any day-to-day abnormalities in reporting.

  • This map illustrates how each state has changed over a one-week period; it is not a static snapshot of the severity of each state’s outbreak.
  • Maine looks bad on the map, but only because it jumped from 11 cases per day to 23.

Go deeper

In photos: Black Friday shopping across the U.S.

Customers shop at Macys on Nov. 27 in New York City. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Many Americans braved shopping malls and department stores to shop in-person on Black Friday.

Why it matters: Coronavirus infections are still on the rise across much of the U.S. during a season of travel and holiday gatherings. Hospitals across the country, especially in rural areas, are still overwhelmed.

Updated Nov 27, 2020 - Sports

NFL reschedules Thanksgiving matchup for second time due to COVID outbreak

Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

The NFL has once again postponed a Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup originally scheduled for primetime on Thanksgiving day due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Why it matters: It's the first time the league has had to scrap a game since October, as the U.S. copes with another surge in coronavirus infections heading into the holidays.

Nov 27, 2020 - Health

WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release"

A medical syringe and vial with fake coronavirus vaccine in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Top scientists at the World Health Organization on Friday called for more detailed information on a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca have said the vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses. AstraZeneca has since acknowledged that the smaller dose received by some participants was the result of an error by a contractor, per the New York Times.