The Murphy Administration is awaiting further guidance from the federal government on two vaccine initiatives, the first one scheduled for next week.
Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing Sept. 13 said they are still awaiting final word from the Biden Administration on who will be eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot that is to begin Sept. 20. Additionally, details for the vaccine mandate that President Joe Biden announced last week for Nov. 22 have yet to be released.
“Even without this guidance, we continue work across all levels of government…the Department of Health, to our county and local health partners and with our healthcare networks and providers to ensure we are prepared whenever that authorization comes down,” said Murphy. “We are doing this in recognition that the window for boosters could soon be open for all of you who received your second doses as recently…as six months ago, so pretty much everyone who had been vaccinated by March.”
Ramping up capacity includes getting prepared to reopen megasites and pushing additional doses out to other distribution points.
“We are working hard to ensure that we will be able to meet what we anticipate will be a very high demand, but as we sit here right now, there remains uncertainty from the federal government regarding who will need to get in line for a booster and when,” Murphy said.
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The preparation for the booster shot comes as President Biden recently stepped up efforts to get more American vaccinated. An executive order instructs all federal executive branch employees and contractors to be vaccinated; there’s no option for regular testing as part of this requirement.
Additionally, the federal Department of Labor is developing a rule to require businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure every worker is fully vaccinated or face weekly testing and provide employees paid time off to get vaccinated.
In New Jersey, teachers and school staff along with state employees are mandated to be vaccinated by Oct. 18. Those who are not vaccinated would face testing at least twice a week.
Murphy said state officials are awaiting the OSHA guidelines to get a better understanding of any latitude will be afforded for the private sector.
“I spoke with a CEO of a very large company who’s got a lot of people in headquarters like campuses but a lot of offices with three or four people in the private sector,” said the governor. “When you talk about a hundred-person minimum, the implication is you’re all in the same location. Is there flexibility or will there be flexibility?”
Additionally, the Biden administration will have vaccination requirements for all workers at most healthcare settings including hospitals, hospices, home healthcare, those that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, estimated to cover over 17 million healthcare workers.
The state’s vaccination or testing requirements for long-term care staffers went into effect last week, with New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli commenting that 77% of long-term care facilities staffers are now fully vaccinated.
But the commissioner remarked that while the state has enough testing capacity, that is a fallback position to try to protect people.
“Testing is not the easiest alternative,” said Persichilli. ”We don’t have a testing mandate; we have a vaccine mandate.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,414,084 in-state, plus an additional 417,873 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 11,831,957 as of Sept. 14. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,547,677 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 179,907 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,727,584.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,275,820 doses (692,713 fully vaccinated), Essex 985,387 doses (472,697), Hudson 895,471 doses (429,409), Morris 694,459 doses (337,689), Passaic 613,329 doses (295,490), Sussex 163,798 doses (80,610), and Warren 106,262 doses (52,004).
As of Sept. 14, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 975,737 with 1,758 total new PCR cases. There were 571 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 145,352. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,121,089.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 22 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,335. The state listed probable deaths at 2,766, bringing the overall total to 27,101. 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 Sept. 14, Bergen had a total of 181 new confirmed cases and 68 new probable cases, Essex 173 new cases and 30 new probable case, Hudson 85 new cases and 30 new probable cases, Morris 80 new confirmed cases and 39 new probable cases, Passaic 108 new cases and 27 new probable cases, Sussex 25 new cases and 19 new probable cases, and Warren 15 new cases and three new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,790, followed by Bergen at 2,623, Hudson with 2,131, Passaic at 1,767, Morris at 1,004, Sussex at 249, and Warren County at 222.
In regards to probable deaths reported Sept. 13, Essex has 310, Bergen has 306, Morris has 263, Hudson has 222, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 69 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,212,016 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Aug. 30, 18,390 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 386 COVID-related hospitalizations and 97 COVID-related deaths.
In the week of Aug. 23-29, breakthroughs accounted for 21.6% of all new cases (2,602 of 12,051), 3.7% of new hospilizations (35 of 945), and none of the 80 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Sept. 14, it remained at 1.01 for a third day in a row. The daily rate of infections from those tested Sept. 9 was 5.3%; by region, the rate was 4.2% in the North, 6.0% in the Central region and 7.0% in the South.
The state reported 1,137 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 390 in the North, 365 in the Central and 382 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 238 are in intensive care units and 127 on ventilators. A total of 110 patients were discharged.
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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 149 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,083 of the cases, broken down between 588 residents and 495 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,677 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,449 residents and 22,804 staff, for a total of 56,253.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,492 on Sept. 14. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,929 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.