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Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Many of the states where coronavirus cases have recently skyrocketed are also seeing the highest death rates in the nation, a painful reminder that wherever the virus goes, death eventually follows.

Between the lines: Deaths usually lag behind cases by a few weeks. Given America's record-high case counts, it's reasonable to expect that death rates across the country will continue to rise in tandem.

Driving the news: Multiple states — including North and South Dakota and Wisconsin — had record hospitalizations yesterday.

  • "This is no longer a slow-motion disaster," Gregory Poland, director of the vaccine research group at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week. "This is a disaster in warp speed. And it's maddening to me as a physician because a whole lot of people have died and are dying."
  • White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx said earlier this week while visiting Montana that evidence shows cases are only going to increase in the state. "It's only going to get worse with the number of hospitalizations and the number of Montanans that die from this disease."

The bottom line: These states are leading the country at a rapid clip along a road that leads somewhere very ugly, and given the resistance to mitigation measures ranging from lockdowns to mask wearing, there's no real off ramp in sight.

Go deeper

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.
Updated Dec 4, 2020 - Health

Fauci apologizes for criticizing U.K. regulators over Pfizer vaccine approval

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious-disease expert, on Thursday walked back his earlier comments criticizing British regulators over their recent approval the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

What he's saying: "I have a great deal of confidence in what the U.K. does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint," Dr Fauci told the BBC on Thursday after saying earlier in the day that U.K. regulators "rushed" their approval of the vaccine.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.