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Average daily COVID deaths in the U.S. drop to lowest level in 10 months

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

How about a pandemic good-news thread for the middle of the week? We haven’t had many chances to do those over the past year.

But I suspect we’ll have plenty this summer.

Before yesterday, the last time the U.S. averaged fewer than 650 daily deaths from COVID nationally was July 9, 2020. We now stand at 635:

You know you’ve had a rough go as a country when 4,000+ deaths per week from an infectious disease is cause for celebration. Some states have seen a more meaningful milestone, though:

The case curve in the U.S. is noteworthy too:

Less than a month ago, on April 14, America was experiencing a slowly rising tide that peaked at 73,000 per day. Since then cases have declined to under 40,000, a decrease of 46 percent(!) in just a matter of weeks. We can chalk some of that up to a seasonal effect, as warmer spring weather arrived across the U.S. and led to people spending more time outdoors. But it may be too that we crossed a certain threshold of herd immunity via vaccination over the past few weeks in which the virus just isn’t spreading efficiently anymore. We can see something similar in Israel’s case curve:

The winter wave receded between mid-January and mid-February, at which point cases plateaued for a few weeks. Then, starting around March 8, the bottom fell out. Maybe the same thing began happening for us in mid-April.

We’re now at our lowest positivity rate of the entire pandemic, just 3.1 percent:

Twenty-two states (including D.C.) are now seeing 10 or fewer new cases of COVID daily per 100,000 residents and California, which accounts for more than 10 percent of the U.S. population, is seeing fewer than five per 100K.

But wait — we’re not done with the good news. Check out which trend has suddenly reversed itself:

I’m tempted to assume that the surge in vaccinations is due to more Johnson & Johnson doses being available again after the pause but the Times’s data suggests that Pfizer’s and Moderna’s numbers are rising more quickly than J&J’s are. The surge is probably due to states shifting from appointment-only vaccinations to allowing walk-ins, providing maximum convenience for people who either couldn’t navigate the online appointment system or couldn’t find an appointment that was convenient. And there are people like that. “I know you’re trying to find out the reason people aren’t doing it,” one man told the NYT recently. “I’m going to tell you. People are trying to take care of their household. You don’t have much time in the day.” Another said that if a tech with the vaccine came to her door, everyone in her home would get jabbed. That’s the new challenge for the feds, shifting from mass vaccination centers where the eager come to them to concierge services where they deliver the vaccine to the less eager but willing. Between those people and the 12-15-year-olds who are now eligible, the surge in daily doses may continue for awhile.