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Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections fell by almost 13% over the past week — a significant improvement.

Why it matters: Things are moving in the right direction again after a brief plateau, and getting the virus under control now will give the U.S. a much better shot at a safe autumn.

By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging about 37,000 new cases every day. That’s a lot, and we’re not even halfway back to the lower totals we were recording before cases surged this summer. But the U.S. has been recording steady progress since August.

Yes, but: A handful of isolated events, including the Sturgis motorcycle rally and some particularly bad college re-openings, caused that progress to flatline last week.

  • It’s good that we’re back on track, but the pause was a reminder of just how easy it is for the virus to come roaring back when public health measures lapse.

Where it stands: The number of new infections fell last week in 18 states, including the big summer hotspots as well as some of the states that saw the biggest spikes last week.

  • The U.S. averaged roughly 710,000 coronavirus tests per day over the past week, a drop of about 3% from the week before.
  • The fact that the decline in cases was bigger than the decline in tests makes it more likely that cases are actually going down, not just that we're not finding as many.

Details: Each week, Axios tracks the change in new infections in each state, compared to the week before. We use a seven-day average to minimize the effects of one-off quirks in states’ reporting.

Go deeper

Dec 22, 2020 - World

Canada's most populous province orders holiday coronavirus lockdown

The Christmas windows at the Hudsons Bay Company encourage people to social distance and wear masks in Toronto. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Ontario officials announced Monday a weeks-long shutdown across Canada's most populous province from Boxing Day as the country is hit by spiking COVID-19 cases.

Driving the news: Nonessential businesses including gyms, salons and indoor dining have been shut in the hardest-hit areas of Toronto and the Regional Municipality of Peel for nearly a month. But Ontario Premier Doug Ford told a briefing "COVID is spreading rapidly from high outbreak areas to areas with fewer cases."

Updated Dec 23, 2020 - Health

Trump asks Congress to increase stimulus payments

A screenshot of President Trump making the announcement. Photo: President Trump/Twitter

President Trump indicated in a video Tuesday evening that he won't sign the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill and $1.4 trillion government funding measure passed by Congress if it's not amended to increase stimulus payments.

Why it matters: The surprise announcement could delay desperately needed aid for millions of Americans if Trump decides not to sign the package as it stands. It also risks a government shutdown on Dec. 28.

Dec 22, 2020 - Health

Antarctica reports first coronavirus cases

King George Island in Antarctica. Photo: Alessandro Dahan/Getty Images

Thirty-six people stationed at a Chilean research base in Antarctica have tested positive for COVID-19, media reports.

Why it matters: Every continent on Earth has now reported coronavirus infections. Travel and research in Antarctica, which houses about 1,000 people on 40 bases, had already been significantly limited, per the New York Times. Experts expect there to be long-term restrictions on the continent, given its isolation and extreme environment.

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