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Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project, Harvard Global Health Institute; Note: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Tennessee and Puerto Rico have not reported hospitalizations consistently. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to decline, particularly in New York and other northeastern states that were among the hardest hit by the virus.

Yes, but: Some states are still recording stagnant or rising amounts of hospitalizations.

By the numbers: Roughly 34,000 people diagnosed or being evaluated for COVID-19 were in the hospital at the beginning of June — down from 40,000 in the middle of May, according to state data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.

  • Seven states — Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and Tennessee — still don't report the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Between the lines: Hospitalizations help show where coronavirus outbreaks have been severe, but they are a lagging indicator of an area's actual infection rate and could underestimate the spread if people die in their homes or before making it to the hospital.

The good news: Hospitalizations have steadily decreased in the biggest coronavirus hotspots: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois and Louisiana.

The bad news: Plenty of states — including Washington, Arizona, North Carolina and Arkansas — still are reporting upticks in the number of hospital beds filled by seriously ill people.

The bottom line: Public health experts are worried that states reopening businesses and people easing up on social distancing guidelines — now paired with nationwide protests over racism and police brutality — will make it harder to temper the outbreak.

Go deeper

Sep 16, 2020 - Health

CDC director suggests face masks offer more COVID-19 protection than vaccine would

CDC director Robert Redfield suggested in a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that face masks are "more guaranteed" to protect against the coronavirus than a vaccine, citing the potential for some people to not become immune to the virus after receiving the shot.

What he's saying: "These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have. And I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings. I've said if we did it for 6, 8, 10, 12 weeks, we'd bring this pandemic under control," he said.

Poll: Biden beats Trump on health care, but it's not the top issue

Reproduced from the Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

Swing voters in three swing states prefer Joe Biden over President Trump on health care and the coronavirus — but those aren't their most important issues, according to the latest KFF-Cook Political Report poll.

The big picture: The economy is the most important issue to these voters, and they give the advantage there to Trump. But Biden dominates the next tier of issues in this poll of swing voters in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina.

Trump blames "blue states" for high coronavirus cases in U.S.

President Trump said in a press conference Wednesday that the U.S. coronavirus death toll is "very low ... if you take the blue states out," while defending the nation's response to the pandemic compared to other countries around the world.

Why it matters: Of the top five states with the largest death tolls from the virus, three have Democratic governors, suggesting there is little relation between the spread of the virus and the political parties of state leaders.