State officials laid out the first framework of how they plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine throughout New Jersey.
Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing Dec. 18 said the state would have six mega sites throughout New Jersey to serve as vaccination hubs for phased priority groups, part of a critical network of over 200 sites tasked with carrying out the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
“With each successive wave, we will get closer to being able to open our vaccination sites to the general public,” said Murphy. “These sites will be in position to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers who are part of the 1A category. We anticipate them also being able to accommodate the 1B category of essential workers before moving to the 1C category of adults over the age of 65 and those with high risk medical conditions.”
The six state-coordinated sites are expected to begin opening in early January 2021 and will immediately be in position to vaccinate front-line healthcare workers and then continue in a phased approach depending on the supply of vaccine to New Jersey. The timing of the progression among the groups depends on the supply of vaccine to the state.
“Building out a core infrastructure of vaccination sites is a critical component of our strategic and efficient deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine and is a key element of New Jersey’s recovery,” said Murphy.
The sites include:
- Atlantic County: Atlantic City Convention Center
- Bergen County: Racetrack at Meadowlands, East Rutherford
- Burlington County: Moorestown Mall
- Gloucester County: Rowan College of South Jersey, Sewell
- Middlesex County: New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, Edison
- Morris County: Rockaway Townsquare Mall
“New Jersey will roll out COVID-19 vaccines step-by-step to serve all who live, work or study in the state,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “New Jersey’s phasing will ensure that limited vaccines are distributed in a fair and equitable manner. With each successive wave, we will get closer to being able to open our vaccination sites to the general public.”
Nursing Homes Dec. 28
Vaccinations began in New Jersey hospitals Dec. 15 for paid and unpaid persons serving in their health facilities. Vaccinations of long-term care residents and staff are expected to begin on Dec. 28 through the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program with Walgreens and CVS. New Jersey is starting a week later than other states in the nation due to missing a deadline by a day and a waiver was denied by the federal government.
“We expect that 1A individuals will be vaccinated throughout January and February,” said Persichilli. “As you may know, the information about anticipated doses and shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine keeps changing.”
The timing of vaccine has become an issue recently. The state had previously expected 86,775 in a second tranche of Pfizer doses. That total was reduced by 38% to 53,625 according to state officials. As a result, the revised expectation of Pfizer doses for December is 183,300 doses, a change of 33% decrease.
Army Gen. Gustave Perna, who heads Operation Warp Speed distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, said a “miscommunication” with states over the number of doses they will receive next week.
“I want to take personal responsibility,” Perna said. “I am the one who approved forecast sheets. I’m the one who approved allocations. There is no problem with the process.”
Persichilli said the goal is to vaccinate up to 2,400 people per day through the mega sites. The mega sites are one of several types of sites utilized in the COVID-19 vaccination plan, classified by the number of people that can be vaccinated per day.
These community-based sites are being established in various settings and locations throughout the state. The sites will include: county sites, and county and local health departments; urgent care centers; the federally qualified health centers; select retail pharmacies; and primary care providers as the state moves through the vaccination phases and toward availability to the general public. Additional sites will be added as the phases progress.
The state’s health department will announce an online portal to enable the various groups in the initial phases and eventually the general public to find a vaccination site and register and schedule an appointment. Some vaccination sites may offer walk-up/on-site registration as well.
“As the availability of vaccines increase, the priority populations are served, information on signups for the general public will be made available,” said Persichilli. “As I said, our expectation is to vaccinate 70% of the eligible adult population in New Jersey in a six-month period. Yes, that is aggressive and yes, it is aspirational. But it’s what we need to do so that this virus has no place to go.”
For the weekend of Dec. 19 and 20, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 432,592 with 9,424 total new cases reported and 70 new deaths, bringing that total to 16,286. The state listed probable deaths at 1,908, bringing the overall total to 18,194.
For North Jersey counties, Essex had a total of 774 new cases over the weekend, Bergen 734 new cases, Hudson 695 new cases, Passaic 529 new cases, Morris 400 new cases, Sussex 131 new cases and Warren 82 new cases.
State officials noted 118 deaths occurred in the last 48 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,092, followed by Bergen at 1,990, Hudson with 1,496, Passaic at 1,246, Morris at 759, Warren at 165 and Sussex at 164.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 256, Essex has 239, Hudson has 161, Morris at 170, Passaic at 146, Sussex has 42 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Dec. 16 was 9.2%, with the North at 8.4%, Central at 8.9% and South at 11.7%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one.
As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.00 from 1.01 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate 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.
Officials reported 3,574 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,612 in the North, 1,124 in the Central and 838 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 707 are in intensive care units and 474 on ventilators. While 811 patients were discharged over the weekend, 803 were admitted.
Essex Tops County Count
Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 43,793, followed by Bergen at 43,119, Middlesex at 40,232, Hudson at 39,769, Passaic at 37,488, Union at 34,251, Ocean at 28,637, Monmouth at 27,954, Camden at 25,781, Burlington at 18,466, Morris at 18,119, Mercer at 17,349, Gloucester at 12,516, Somerset at 11,494, Atlantic at 10,657, Cumberland at 6,868, Sussex at 3,747, Warren at 3,413, Hunterdon at 3,338, Salem at 2,387 and Cape May at 2,134.
Another 1,080 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 98 outbreaks involving 428 cases have been reported in 19 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with 10 new outbreaks involving 40 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 18 confirmed outbreaks with 86 cases, Passaic County has four confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, Warren County has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Sussex County has three confirmed outbreaks with seven cases and Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 405 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 9,325 of the cases, broken down between 4,404 residents and 4,948 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,108 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 28,454 residents and 17,662 staff, for a total of 46,116 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,430 on Dec. 20. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,124 residents deaths and 124 staff deaths.