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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Daily COVID-19 tests in the U.S. have declined by more than a quarter since mid-January.

Why it matters: Even with cases and deaths falling dramatically in recent weeks, the pandemic is far from finished, and less demand for testing could put us a step behind the spread.

By the numbers: A little over 1.5 million Americans received a COVID-19 test on March 4, according to data from the soon-to-close COVID-19 Tracking Project.

  • That represents a 26% decline from the peak of 2 million a day, and the average number of daily tests has fallen by more than 33% compared to January.
  • In states like Michigan, testing rates have fallen by half, while disruptions caused by severe winter storms depressed numbers in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Be smart: The rise of vaccinations and a decline in new cases from the post-holiday peak have likely led many Americans to forego testing, but case numbers are still plateauing at more than 60,000 a day, even as some states have begun to end restrictions.

  • That's a dangerous combination that could permit the coronavirus to continue spreading silently, especially in under-vaccinated populations.
  • And it's not helped by continual delays in authorizing the kind of cheap, rapid, at-home tests that could allow for easy and continuous surveillance.

What they're saying: "With the vaccine, we're not really going to be looking for the positive cases as much as verifying constantly that those who were vaccinated or were negative before are still negative," says Tony Lemmo, CEO of the diagnostics equipment company BioDot.

Go deeper

John Frank, author of Denver
Mar 5, 2021 - Axios Denver

Colorado approaches 6,000 COVID-19 deaths

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Colorado is approaching 6,000 deaths related to COVID-19 — an unfathomable benchmark that comes one year after officials confirmed the first cases in the state.

The big picture: About one out of every 1,000 Coloradans alive at the beginning of the pandemic fell victim to it, as The Colorado Sun wrote.

Updated 3 mins ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Charted: GOP surged as Biden slumped

Expand chart
Reproduced from Gallup. (Independents were asked their party leaning.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Gallup polling found a huge shift in party preference over the course of 2021, from a 9-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a 5-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.

Why it matters: It's the biggest swing in one calendar year for Gallup's 30 years of tracking.

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