Los Angeles. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Washington and California, which originally appeared to be epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., have slowed their surges of new cases — although it can't be ruled out that California is just behind on testing.

Why it matters: These states were early adopters of stringent social distancing measures, and these policies appear to be making a difference. That should offer us all fresh encouragement to keep staying home and practicing good hygiene.

Yes, but: As Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned yesterday during a White House coronavirus briefing, the numbers nationwide will likely get worse before they get better.

  • The U.S. is still adopting social distancing policies state-by-state, and there's a lag between when these measures are implemented and when people who have already been exposed begin to experience symptoms.
  • It then takes a few days for some of these people to need to be hospitalized, and then a few more days for deaths to rise.
  • This pattern will keep repeating until the virus stops spreading, which will continue as long as sick Americans continue to interact with healthy ones. But if we all stay home, that spread can't happen.

The bottom line: "In the next several days to a week or so, we're going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that, because the mitigation is working and will work," Fauci said.

  • Remember that things looked really bad in Washington and California a few weeks ago, too.

Go deeper

Deadly storm Zeta pummels parts of Alabama and Florida

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Former Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm's powerful winds and heavy rainfall moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," Zeta weakened to a tropical storm over central Alabama early on Thursday, per the National Hurricane Center.

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Consumer confidence sinking Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.