The pace of new coronavirus infections leveled off over the past week, but the nationwide caseload is still dangerously high.
The big picture: Throughout the fall, new cases skyrocketed to record levels. It's good news that they're no longer skyrocketing, but holding steady at record or near-record highs is nothing to cheer about.
By the numbers: The U.S. averaged roughly 209,000 new cases per day over the past week, a modest 1.8% increase from the week before.
- The nationwide totals held steady even as the number of new infections fell in 19 states — including Iowa, South Dakota and several other states that were hit especially hard by the fall surge.
- A handful of more populous states recorded some significant increases, which is why the national total is still so high. California, for example, averaged roughly 32,500 new cases per day over the past week, an increase of almost 40% over the previous week.
What's next: Reduced caseloads in small, largely rural states should help alleviate some of the crushing burden on local hospitals.
- For now, though, hospitalizations remain at a record high; roughly 113,000 people are in the hospital today for severe coronavirus infections.
- And if many Americans travel for the holidays, cases could pick right back up.
- Vaccines will eventually help contain the virus, but it'll be several months before the general public can start getting vaccinated, and lax safety measures in the meantime will only heighten a crisis that has already claimed 300,000 American lives.
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.