With the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for teachers and state workers going into effect next Monday, a North Jersey lawmaker wants assurances from Gov. Phil Murphy that government offices will be open that day.
State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-40) urged Murphy to keep his word to fully reopen state government offices that have been closed since the start of the pandemic.
“Important state offices, including unemployment walk-in centers, have been closed for nearly 19 months and completely inaccessible to New Jerseyans,” said Corrado in a press statement Oct. 13. “Given the long wait, I hope the rumors aren’t true that some offices may have their reopenings pushed back beyond the date the governor set for his administration to get back to work.”
Republicans in Trenton have admonished Murphy during the pandemic that many state offices, including the Labor Department’s One-Stop Career Centers, have remained closed for too long since shutting down in March of 2020.
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“It would be yet another failure of leadership if Gov. Murphy delayed the full reopening of the state government any longer,” said Corrado, echoing an issue that GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli has raised during debates and on the campaign trail in the race for governor this year.
“Given the pent-up frustration of so many New Jerseyans, I wouldn’t want to be Gov. Murphy if he breaks his promise by failing to reopen all State offices to the public on Monday,” the State Senator added. “The doors better be unlocked, the lights turned on, and the centers fully staffed for business.”
Calls to open more front-facing government offices has been a bipartisan issue going back for more than a year now. In April, a joint request was issued from Corrado and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) to reopen unemployment offices to serve a surge of claimants whose benefits were blocked erroneously. That request followed a bipartisan letter from the senators to the Labor Commissioner a month earlier in which they stressed the need for the Murphy administration to prioritize “face to face assistance.”
Oct. 18 Deadline
Murphy announced on Aug. 23 that state workers along with teachers will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. The first term Democratic governor said at that time that all state employees—including those at state agencies, authorities, New Jersey State Police officers and public colleges and universities—are required to be fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing at a minimum of once to twice each week by the third Monday of October. In conjunction with the vaccine mandate, state employees were expected to return to their offices that day.
State officials have not given specific answers to how many state employees are fully vaccinated beyond New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli declaring that 75% of all New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated and 85% have received at least once shot for those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Wave of Retirements?
When asked if they expect to see a large number of state employees retire rather than adhere to the vaccine mandate, Murphy said at his press briefing Oct. 13 he was not aware of any large number of retirement papers being processed. Chief Counsel Parimal Garg commented that “We’ve been working closely with our departments to make sure that they can successfully return to the office.”
Those returning workers, according to Corrado, will be met by residents looking for solutions to their problems.
“We’ve already heard from constituents who will be lining up outside the walk-in unemployment centers when they are scheduled to reopen next week to try to resolve claims that have been in limbo for weeks or months,” said Corrado.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,996,376 in-state, plus an additional 451,366 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,447,742 as of Oct. 14. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,759,208 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 193,532 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,952,740. State officials reported 226,936 booster and third shots of Pfizer and 56,284 a third shot of Moderna.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,341,215 doses (640,372 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,037,134 doses (496,729), Hudson 934,084 doses (449,712), Morris 726,805 doses (345,657), Passaic 645,216 doses (310,020), Sussex 170,440 doses (83,267), and Warren 111,360 doses (54,031).
As of Oct. 14, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,022,658 with 1,409 total new PCR cases. There were 305 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 154,895. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,177,553.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 20 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,870. The state listed probable deaths at 2,803, bringing the overall number to 27,673. State officials noted 14 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 14, Bergen had a total of 126 new confirmed cases and 22 new probable cases, Essex 93 new cases and eight new probable case, Hudson 70 new cases and four new probable cases, Morris 63 new confirmed cases and 13 new probable cases, Passaic 65 new cases and nine new probable cases, Sussex 45 new cases and three new probable cases, and Warren 29 new cases and six new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,826, followed by Bergen at 2,667, Hudson with 2,162, Passaic at 1,796, Morris at 1,029, Sussex at 255, and Warren County at 227.
In regards to probable deaths reported Oct. 13, Essex has 311, Bergen has 307, Morris has 265, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 70 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,571,445 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Sept. 27, 33.963 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 672 COVID-related hospitalizations and 182 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 20-Sept. 26, breakthroughs accounted for 24.8% of all new cases (3,000 of 13,507), 4.4% of new hospilizations (39 of 883), and none of the 137 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 13, it increased to 0.94 from 0.93 for the two straight days. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 9 was 5.7%; by region, the rate was 4.3% in the North, 6.9% in the Central region and 7.8% in the South.
The state reported 870 patients were hospitalized in 69 of 71 hospitals that reported; by region, there were 266 in the North, 262 in the Central and 342 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 212 are in intensive care units and 114 on ventilators. A total of 117 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, the state has tracked 96 school outbreaks and 521 cases in 84 school districts linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 27 outbreaks and 142 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 444 students and 77 teachers across 19 counties.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey as of Oct. 13, Passaic County has two confirmed outbreak with 62 cases, Bergen County has seven confirmed outbreak with 36 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has six confirmed outbreak with 24 cases, Essex County has five confirmed outbreak with 20 cases and Hudson County has three confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 167 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,341 of the cases, broken down between 726 residents and 615 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,771 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,861 residents and 23,137 staff, for a total of 56,998.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,573 on Oct. 14. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,984 residents deaths and 146 staff deaths.
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)