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Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

America’s coronavirus outbreak is rapidly improving as the Delta wave recedes, and vaccines for kids — which could become available within weeks — will help the situation improve even further.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the U.S. is now averaging about 79,000 new cases per day — a 22% drop over the past two weeks.

  • COVID-19 deaths have fallen by 14% over the same period, to an average of 1,600 per day.

Where it stands: Hawaii has the lowest number of new cases relative to its population, followed by Florida and Louisiana — which were hotbeds for the virus this summer.

The other side: Alaska, Montana and Idaho have the highest number of cases relative to their populations. Cases per capita are also creeping up in New England.

The big picture: Experts are cautiously optimistic that the virus will continue to lose ground throughout the U.S.

  • Roughly 57% of the U.S. is fully vaccinated, and that number will increase once kids can get the jab. Millions of people also have some level of immunity from a prior infection.
  • Holiday travel will likely cause some spikes in new cases. The risk will be greatest in places with low vaccination rates, and people who aren’t vaccinated will remain at risk for serious illness and death. But the U.S. as a whole is on the right track.

Go deeper

Dec 6, 2021 - Health

Cruise ship COVID outbreak: Louisiana officials find "probable" Omicron case

The Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship. Photo: Gerard Bottino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Louisiana health authorities said a suspected Omicron case was one of 17 confirmed COVID-19 infections among the passengers and crew of a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship that returned to New Orleans Sunday.

Driving the news: The Norwegian Breakaway departed New Orleans on Nov. 28 with more than 3,200 people on board, before making stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico, according to a Louisiana Department of Health statement.

Updated Dec 6, 2021 - Health

NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Monday announced a new COVID vaccine mandate for all private companies.

Why it matters: De Blasio, speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," said the "first-in-the-nation measure" will go into effect starting Dec. 27. It will apply to approximately 184,000 businesses.

Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul COVID-19 addresses rising cases in the state and the new variant Omicron at a press conference in November. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Monday that some state hospitals will be ordered to halt certain elective surgeries in an effort to combat a recent COVID-19 surge, Hochul said at a press conference.

Why it matters: New York has struggled with hospital capacity throughout the pandemic and postponed nonessential procedures before.