A steady decline in new coronavirus cases in the United States appears to have stalled in recent days, public health officials said, warning that new, more transmissible variants could be taking hold. The number of new infections has started to plateau and remains critically high, with more than 76,000 cases reported Saturday, even as hospitalizations continue to drop. The apparent reversal in the course of the outbreak comes as Johnson & Johnson prepares to begin distributing its one-shot coronavirus vaccine following emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend. The company will initially supply a limited number of doses, after which it will ramp up production. The hope is that the more flexible vaccine will be easier to deploy in harder-to-reach areas.

Here are some significant developments:
  • Following approval by the FDA of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending its use, with deliveries to start this week.
  • Israel’s lightning-fast vaccination program is providing a wealth of information on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, including that it is safe for pregnant and nursing women as well as for those with food allergies and autoimmune disorders.
  • Former president Donald Trump urged people to get vaccinated in his speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference, something he declined to advocate while in the White House.
  • Mexico’s Oaxaca depends on tourism and is glad to have many visitors return, but their lax attitude toward the coronavirus restrictions is a problem.
  • More than 512,000 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus with 28.5 million cases reported since the virus was first identified. The rolling average for both deaths and new cases has been on the rise this week. So far, 15 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine shot.