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Coronavirus daily death rates are peaking in many states

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, Census Bureau; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Daily coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday, when roughly 2,800 people died from the virus.

The big picture: Caseloads and hospitalizations continue to rise, and deaths are spiking in states all across the country.

By the numbers: The states with the highest death tolls from the virus, adjusted for population, are still the ones that were hit hard by the first wave of infections in the spring.

  • New York saw 38.9 deaths per 1 million people in April, followed by New Jersey (37.5) and Connecticut (33.4).
  • But more states are now catching up to those totals.
  • North and South Dakota, which saw surges in the fall, recorded 24.1 and 30.4 daily deaths in November — the fourth and fifth highest state peaksto date.
  • Twelvestates and Puerto Rico havehit new daily death records just this week.

What's happening: As Americans continue to disregard mitigation strategies and become infected in record numbers, hospitals around the country are facing staff shortages, meaning the quality and availability of treatment is decreasing.

  • And while there are promising new pharmaceutical treatments on the market, there's not nearly enough for everyone.
  • That means that death rates can get as high as we let them, and in many states, they're currently trending in the wrong direction.

The bottom line: At this point, there's no good reason to think that America is going to control the virus, meaning that thousands of lives are on the line every day until a vaccine is widely available to vulnerable populations.

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

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Note: Bernie Sanders is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Data: Axios Research/ProPublica/NCSL; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

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FBI, Homeland Security warn of increasing threat to Capitol

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Driving the news: The joint report says an unidentified group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

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Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

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Biden on states lifting COVID restrictions: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking"

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told pool reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

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