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Data: N.Y. Times; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The pace of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. is beginning to slow — a potential sign that the states hit hardest by the Delta wave may be starting to turn things around.

Yes, but: Deaths are still rising, and it’s still too early to know whether schools might drive cases back up again.

By the numbers: On average, about 150,000 Americans are contracting COVID-19 infections every day. That number has fallen by 8% over the past two weeks.

  • The rate of new infections got worse over the past two weeks in 27 states and improved in 23.
  • Many of the states that experienced the biggest surges in cases and hospitalizations this summer are now beginning to see some improvement.

Deaths, however, are rising. The virus is now killing 1,888 Americans per day, on average — a 33% jump over the past two weeks.

Between the lines: When a new wave hits, cases go up first, followed a little while later by hospitalizations, and then deaths. Today’s rising death toll is the result of the increase in cases and severe illnesses that swept across the U.S. earlier this summer.

  • Vaccinated people can get infected, but are still protected almost entirely from severe illness and death. This summer’s crush of hospitalizations, and now the rising death toll, were preventable.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
16 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.

17 hours ago - Health

State COVID lotteries did not increase vaccination rates, study finds

California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a drawing for the state's Vax for the Win program in June. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

None of the 19 states that implemented statewide COVID-19 vaccine lotteries this summer saw an increase in vaccination rates as a result of the incentive programs, according to a study published Friday in Jama Health Forum.

Why it matters: The study is the first to examine the effectiveness of 19 state-run lotteries, and offers insight into how governments can better craft incentive-based policies, said Andrew Friedson, one of the study's authors and an associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver.

19 hours ago - World

Italy begins enforcement of stringent COVID vaccine policy

A man protests against the vaccine policies in Italy on Friday. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

Italy began enforcing one of the world's strictest workplace vaccination policies on Friday, risking protests and worker strikes, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: The policy requires all employees — in both public and private sectors — to have a "Green Pass," which shows workers have proof of vaccination, a negative test or have recently recovered from COVID-19, per AP.