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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

11 hours ago - Health

Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years

Expand chart
Data: Annals of Internal Medicine; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The pandemic slashed U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years, with Black and Hispanic Americans losing more than twice as many years per capita compared to white Americans, according to research published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared.

20 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

D.C. school employees required to get vaccinated

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

All D.C. school and daycare employees — public, private, and charter — must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 with no option to test out, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today.

  • Student athletes over the age of 12 will also be required to get vaccinated in order to participate in after-school programs, the mandate says.