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Coronavirus cases fell by 15% this week — a big improvement

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

New coronavirus infections fell by almost 15% over the past week, continuing a steady downward trend.

Why it matters: The standard caveats still apply — progress can always fall apart, the U.S. is climbing down from a very high number of cases, and this is far from over. But this is undeniably good news. Things are getting better.


Where it stands: The U.S. is averaging roughly 41,700 new confirmed cases per day, down from about 49,000 per day last week and 65,000 per day at the height of the summer outbreak.

  • The pace of new infections fell in 20 states, including the summer hotspots of Arizona, Florida and Texas. California, which has been a stubborn holdout, finally saw a significant drop (31%) this week.
  • A handful of states across the South and Midwest headed in the wrong direction this week, as did Massachusetts, which was hit hard at the beginning of the pandemic but has since managed to keep the virus reasonably well contained.

What we’re watching: Any number of things could undermine this progress, from widespread outbreaks stemming from college campuses to complacency about the need to maintain social distancing.

  • And the U.S. is continuing to pull back on testing. We averaged about 690,000 tests per day last week, down roughly 5% from the week before.
  • Scaling back the number of tests has helped people get test results faster, which is important. And the drop in cases is significantly bigger than the drop in testing, suggesting that it’s real improvement and not just a function of testing.
  • Still, as fewer asymptomatic people are able to get tested, there’s always a risk they’ll spread the virus.

How it works: Each week, Axios tracks the change in new infections in each state. We use a seven-day average to minimize the effects of day-to-day discrepancies in states’ reporting.

Trump to meet with Supreme Court candidate Barbara Lagoa in Florida on Friday

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The U.S. now has more then 200,000 coronavirus deaths

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus has now killed 200,000 Americans, according to Johns Hopkins data.

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Trump says he will announce Supreme Court pick on Saturday

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Why it matters: Republicans are moving fast to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which would tilt the balance of the high court in conservatives' favor and have lasting impact on climate policy, immigration and the Affordable Care Act. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who met with the president this week, is a frontrunner for the job.

Wall Street fears stimulus is doomed

The fight over a new Supreme Court justice will take Washington's partisan bickering to a new level and undermine any chance for needed coronavirus relief measures before November's election, Wall Street analysts say.

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Why Puerto Ricans are still struggling to get online

Internet connectivity remains a weak link for the disaster-wracked U.S. territory Puerto Rico, and some experts fear a new tranche of Federal Communications Commission subsidies set aside just for the island might not help the people most in need of a broadband connection.

Why it matters: Puerto Rico is locked out of most federal funding available to U.S. states to help expand internet service. The island risks being left behind as carriers expand and upgrade high-speed internet networks elsewhere, even as infrastructure-damaging tropical storms come faster and harder and the pandemic makes broadband even more of a must-have.

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The price of Washington's stimulus failure

America's elected representatives have failed America.

Why it matters: The bipartisan inability to deliver economic stimulus could impede economic growth for months to come. It will create widespread damage across America — from small businesses to large industries to schools and day cares — and leave many Americans without jobs or homes.

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