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

For the first time since early August, the U.S. is averaging fewer than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.

Why it matters: This U.S. has blown opportunities like this before, but the prospect of controlling the virus and being able to safely put pandemic life behind us is once again within reach.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the U.S. is averaging 91,000 new cases per day — a 19% drop over the past two weeks.

  • Deaths are also declining, but more slowly. Average daily deaths are down roughly 2% over the past two weeks.
  • Yes, but: The virus is still killing over 1,900 Americans per day, on average.

Details: Alaska has the biggest outbreak in the U.S., relative to its population, with 113 cases per 100,000 people.

  • The virus' strongest foothold is in the West and upper Midwest. Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Idaho, Utah, Minnesota and Wisconsin are all among the 10 states with the most cases per capita.
  • Hawaii and Connecticut are the states with the lowest caseloads, each with an average of just 12 cases per 100,000 people. Another nine states and Washington, D.C., are averaging 20 cases or fewer per 100,000 people.
  • That list includes Alabama, Louisiana and Florida — a significant improvement for a trio of states that saw cases soar during the Delta wave.

What’s next: Areas with relatively high case rates and relatively low vaccination rates will remain at risk for localized outbreaks throughout the winter, and unvaccinated people are at risk of serious illness and death if they contract the virus.

  • Nationwide, however, the U.S. may finally be close to containing the virus, which would save lives and make interventions like mask mandates less necessary.

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.

Kate Marino, author of Markets
57 mins ago - Economy & Business

Omicron outbreaks were bad for business in January

Data: New York Federal Reserve Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Emerging anecdotal evidence shows just how hard the recent rise in COVID-19 cases hit businesses in early January — but that hasn't hurt some business leaders’ longer-term views on their companies' prospects.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the economic recovery has come in fits and starts that move in tandem with new peaks in cases. Look no further than the thousands of cancelled flights and shuttered Broadway theaters in the wake of the Omicron variant's spread over the last few months.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

The shifting definition of fully vaccinated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The definition of what it means to be "fully vaccinated" is evolving even as the CDC has remained careful not to officially change it.

Why it matters: CDC officials have been balancing the job of convincing Americans who've already gotten two doses of the importance of boosters with getting many Americans who still need their first doses to get their shots at all.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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