The pandemic is softening, but the reprieve may not last.

A healthcare worker wearing a face mask and a face shield giving an injection to another masked healthcare worker.
A healthcare worker wearing a face mask and a face shield giving an injection to another masked healthcare worker.
Now that many health-care workers have been vaccinated, the easy part of the contest has ended. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

In the past week, a new picture has emerged in COVID-19 data: The pandemic seems to be receding from its high-water mark in the United States. The most dependable metric of COVID-19’s spread — the number of people currently in the hospital with the disease — is in its first sustained, week-over-week decline since September, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. Hospitalizations fell in the past week in every state but Vermont.

The number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 is falling too. New cases declined in every region of the country last week. Cases even seem to…


Cases are rising in all but nine states. Unlike the past two waves, this one has no epicenter.

A plastic oral thermometer covered with “I voted” stickers.
A plastic oral thermometer covered with “I voted” stickers.
Photo illustration: The Atlantic

The United States is sleepwalking into what could become the largest coronavirus outbreak of the pandemic so far. In the past week alone, as voters prepare to go to the ballot box, about one in every 1,000 Americans has tested positive for the virus, and about two in every 100,000 Americans have died of it.

This third surge is far more geographically dispersed than what the country saw in the spring or summer: The coronavirus is at risk of careening out of control, and it can be found in every kind of American community, from tiny farm towns to affluent…


Lina Khan has a novel theory about monopolies — and her sights are set squarely on the company

Illustration: Tim Tomkinson

Shortly after i met Lina Khan, her cellphone rang. The call was from a representative of a national organization, regarding a speech it had asked her to give. Khan was courteous on the phone, but she winced momentarily after hanging up. “That was the American Bar Association,” she confessed. “I don’t know if I’ve passed the bar yet.”

This feeling — that Khan’s ideas are in high demand slightly before her time — has characterized much of her life lately. In the past year, the 29-year-old legal scholar’s work has been cited approvingly by the lefty, rabble-rousing congressman Keith Ellison…


Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock / Eric Thayer / Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters / Paul Spella / The Atlantic

There’s no magic bill waiting in the wings — and no quick path to arriving at one.


Winter ends slowly, but spring begins abruptly. One day you don’t need your heaviest parka. One evening there’s still light in the sky when you leave for home. Or one night, leaving for dinner, the slipperiest sidewalk ice is gone.

For me, at least, who grew up near a coast and a temperate jet stream, spring begins on that first afternoon where you walk outside and smell pungent, envigorating, green chlorophyll. At that moment winter terminates.

It is impossible to predict that day, though, so I’m anticipating the change in seasons by other observances.

There are five days to the…


Or, why Medium’s new features are more important than they seem

This is a post about Medium, which is a fascinating company partly because it has a lot of money, and partly because its leadership team first brought you Blogger (the first really successful blogging tool) and Twitter (Twitter), and which released a whole slate of new features this week in a kind of confusing way.

But first it is about this question: What is web writing in 2015?

This part of the essay is not as much about Medium.

You know, web writing — that chatty, affable, ephemeral old thing. The thing that prized personality over pomp, the thing with feathers (and links.) What does it look like?

Does its writer…


I hear that you and your team have sold your messaging client and built a blogging platform. I hear that you and your team have sold your blogging platform and built a messaging client.

I feel like most of my media writing/reporting/criticism/whatever comes down to this: I still find the idea of a diverse blogosphere — arrayed across tens of thousands of URLs, with sites organized by author and shaped by distinctive interests — really, distinctively, unavoidably cool.

And worth aspiring to, and working for.

(Medium may fit into that, but I don’t know how yet.)


The riverside church, by Joseph Bylund / cc BY-SA

I grew up in the orbit of Princeton University, fifteen minutes away in a small town. Princeton was so ubiquitous that folks sometimes referred to it, in a tone more frank than ominous, as “The University.” Concerts, field trips, summer camps happened at the university; parents worked there. Princeton was one of the pattern-setting centers of livelihood.

It has a large, proud campus. A stone and iron gate, topped with carved eagles, guards its front entrance. In the past decade, it’s put up a twisting, aluminum library, designed by Frank Gehry, and a gargantuan Gothic dorm underwritten by Meg Whitman’s…

Robinson Meyer

Associate Editor, The Atlantic. Proud expat of New Jersey and Chicago.

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