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Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive is rising across the country, including in states that are also seeing a spike in cases.

Why it matters: High positivity rates indicate a worsening outbreak, and put together with the rise in cases and hospitalizations across the country, suggest that the U.S. is in bad shape.

The big picture: The virus is spreading throughout the U.S. It's not concentrated in any one region, as it was during the previous waves.

  • It's unlikely to spread only among young, healthy people. The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living released a report yesterday highlighting the link between community spread and nursing home cases, and showing a recent uptick in both.

By the numbers: Nationally, the positivity rate was 5.3%, on average, over the last 7 days — an increase from the 4.7% positivity rate over the prior 7 days.

  • For context, the World Health Organization recommended in May that the positivity rate remain below 5% for at least two weeks before governments reopen. 17 states and D.C. currently met that threshold over the last week.
  • Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota and Iowa each had a positivity rate greater than 25% over the last 7 days. Nearly half of coronavirus tests in Iowa are coming back positive.

The bottom line: The virus already has a firm foothold in most of the country, and cold weather — which is right around the corner — will likely accelerate today's trends.

  • This all means more deaths, more economic devastation, and more isolation and psychological strain. If we'd gotten the virus under control during the summer, we'd have saved ourselves from a lot of this coming pain.

Go deeper

Romney: Trump's lack of leadership on COVID-19 is "a great human tragedy"

Sen. Mitt Romney and President Trump. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) told CNN Thursday that President Trump's lack of leadership during the coronavirus pandemic is "a great human tragedy."

Driving the news: Trump has largely stayed silent on the country's worsening pandemic in recent weeks, even as the U.S. experienced a record daily death toll and hospitalizations surpassed 100,000 for the first time. Instead, the president has focused much of his public commentary on pushing baseless claims of widespread election fraud.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.

Dec 3, 2020 - Podcasts

Faces of COVID creator on telling the stories of those we've lost

America yesterday lost 2,762 people to COVID-19, per the CDC, bringing the total pandemic toll to 272,525. That's more than the population of Des Moines, Iowa. Or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Or Toledo, Ohio.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Alex Goldstein, creator of the @FacesofCOVID Twitter account, about sharing the stories behind the statistics.