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

New coronavirus infections held steady across the U.S. as falling case rates in a few hot spots in the South were offset by increases elsewhere.

Driving the news: While the overall COVID case rate increased less than 1% over the last two weeks, hospitalizations increased 4% in the same time frame, and the seven-day rolling average of deaths rose 29%.

  • The country is averaging about 1,500 deaths a day for the first time since March. And while they're well below peak levels, daily death totals have more than quintupled since the start of August, per the New York Times.

By the numbers: On average, about 152,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 each day nationwide over the past two weeks.

  • That might look like an improvement from last week, when we reported about 160,000 Americans were testing positive for COVID daily, but the data might also be skewed by many states not reporting on Labor Day.

Details: A small number of states, including Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, still have high numbers but have continued to see an improvement over the past two weeks.

  • For instance, Florida saw a 23% drop in cases and a 17% drop in hospitalizations over the last two weeks. But the state still has 345 daily COVID deaths on average.
  • Meanwhile, the biggest increases in new cases continue to be clustered in the South — including Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina — as well as in Ohio and West Virginia.
  • States around the country have reported that COVID surges are increasing the strain on hospital systems. This week, Idaho hospitals begin rationing health care amid COVID surges, West Virginia reported record high ICU and ventilator cases, and Wisconsin hospitals said their ICU beds are in short supply.

What we’re watching: Cases — and hospitalizations — among kids.

  • Kids now make up more than a quarter (26.9%) of new weekly COVID-19 cases nationwide after they headed back to school over the last few weeks, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • In all, there were 251,781 child COVID-19 cases reported between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2, per AAP's data. In that time, there was a 10% increase in the cumulative number of pediatric COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

The bottom line: The Delta variant continues to show us there is still a long road ahead — and plenty of pockets around the country that are still vulnerable — with this pandemic. As the AP put it: The summer of hope is ending in gloom.

Go deeper

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The COVID booster vaccine discussion is far from over — Cuba becomes first country to begin mass vaccination of children.
  2. Health: Chicago has highest COVID-19 case rates in city worker neighborhoods — International Mission Board to require COVID vaccine for missionaries.
  3. Politics: Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers — Footage shows new details after NYC restaurant incident over proof of vaccination.
  4. Education: More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines — Most Kentucky school boards vote in favor of mask mandates —Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, and that his vaccination against the virus prevented a more severe infection.

What they're saying: "Today, I tested positive for COVID-19," Ryan wrote on Twitter. "While I’m currently experiencing mild symptoms, I’m grateful to have the protection of a safe and effective vaccine — and I know without it, this illness could be much, much worse."

  • "What we have learned over the last year and a half is that we are in this together, and I urge all Ohioans to help us crush this pandemic by wearing a mask and getting vaccinated so that we can get back to normal."

D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive COVID vaccine without testing option

Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Monday that all teachers, school personnel and early child care workers must get vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1 with no option to opt out with weekly testing.

Why it matters: A majority of the D.C. city council urged Bowser to eliminate the weekly testing option for public school teachers and day care professionals, WashPost noted. Bowser's new mandate extended the vaccine requirement without a testing option to all D.C. public schools, charter schools, private schools and child care facilities.