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

Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths are climbing across the U.S., ahead of a busy holiday week that will likely help the virus spread even more.

By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging about 122,000 new cases per day — a slight increase over the past week, but a 41% spike over the past two weeks.

  • Roughly 1,300 Americans are dying from COVID infections per day, on average.
  • The CDC’s most recent update, released last week, showed a 15% jump in hospitalizations.

Where it stands: Wisconsin has the country’s biggest COVID outbreak right now, relative to its population, with an average of roughly 100 cases per 100,000 people.

  • Michigan has more COVID deaths per 100,000 people than any other state, followed by Montana, Arizona, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin saw the biggest increase in average COVID deaths over the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, the vaccination rate in the U.S. is barely moving. Nearly 40% of Americans aren't fully vaccinated, and the number who are fully vaccinated increased by less than 2 percentage points so far this month, according to CDC data.

  • About 27% of fully vaccinated Americans, including 52% of fully vaccinated seniors, have gotten a booster dose, per the CDC.

All available evidence shows that the vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness or death from the Delta variant of COVID-19, which remains the dominant strain in the U.S.

  • The Omicron variant, which is likely to become the dominant strain soon, appears to spread even more easily than Delta.
  • Early evidence suggests that vaccinated people will need a booster to achieve maximum protection against Omicron.

What we’re watching: Travel and indoor gatherings for Christmas will likely push COVID cases higher, and that trend will accelerate even further if and when Omicron gains a bigger foothold in the U.S.

  • That will almost certainly translate into at least some increase in both hospitalizations and deaths, with unvaccinated Americans at the greatest risk for both.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - Axios Twin Cities

Questions about Twin Cities indoor dining vaccine mandates, answered

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Vaccine-or-test mandates for indoor dining go into effect in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Here are answers to some common questions on the orders:

Q: Are all restaurants covered by the requirement?

A: No, St. Paul's order only covers establishments licensed by the city. That means coffee shops, fast food chains and other places that do not serve alcohol are exempt, according to the Pioneer Press.

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker