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Walgreens Lagging in Administering COVID-19 Vaccine in New Jersey

After Gov. Phil Murphy expressed his frustration with the participation of Walgreens in the federal program administering the COVID-19 vaccine at long-term care facilities, the company has made commitments to reach certain benchmarks in the coming week. 

“We had a constructive call with the senior leadership of Walgreens (as they) committed to certain benchmarks within the next week,” said Murphy at a press briefing Jan. 25. “We shall see…We need to see the delivery of shots in the arms to our long-term care residents and staff.”

The statement comes days after Murphy implored the pharmacy company to move quicker in providing the doses at nursing homes and other congregate living facilities.

“I think the big move on the board they need to make is putting more bodies on the task,” said Murphy at a press briefing Jan. 22 around the question of why Walgreens have not administered more doses to seniors and other residents and staff at long-term care facilities.  

Plan in Place 

The governor noted the plan is in place to get the doses to these vulnerable communities.

“They know how many people live there, how many staff are there, they get the allocation and they put that to the side in cold-chain storage. That part appears to be working,” stated the governor. “I think….over 90% of long-term care facilities in the state have been scheduled, so that part is working.” 

But Walgreens was not moving at a fast enough pace for Murphy’s liking.

“So the good news is your grandmother’s nursing home is scheduled, but it might be scheduled for February 25. It ought to be scheduled for January 25,” he said. “ They’re not getting wasted. They’re not going unused, but they need to put more urgency and more manpower into this.”

Federal Program

The governor noted that there are two categories for vaccines in New Jersey. The first category are the vaccines set aside for the federal administered pharmacy program and its partners, controlled by CVS and Walgreens. They administer the doses to residents and staff at long-term care facilities, and other congregate living centers covered under the federal program. 

In total, more than 1,500 of these facilities statewide, serving hundreds of thousands of the state’s most highly vulnerable residents are enrolled in this program. CVS in a published report stated it has administered first doses of the coronavirus vaccine at nearly 800 New Jersey nursing homes and assisted living facilities it had a contract with, with more than 300 others remaining scheduled over the next seven days to get their first dose.

State Program

The second category are the vaccines that New Jersey controls the distribution of, going to the six mega sites and the 130 community-based sites currently online. 

“So when we see statewide statistics that blend these two programs, the federal program and our state-administered or overseen program, keep that in mind,” noted Murphy. “We are working diligently to put out as many doses as we have control over to our vaccination centers.”

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli stated the state does not touch any shipment of the doses coming into the state. 

No Stockpile

“It goes right from the feds to the point of dispensing. We have no stockpile,” said Persichilli. “Right now, 450,000 doses have been put aside at the federal government for the long-term care, congregate setting, federal partnership.”

Murphy stressed that this all goes back to supply chain issues that the Biden Administration is currently confronting. 

“There’s an extraordinary supply-demand imbalance,” said the governor. “It will go away. It will cure itself but it will take time.”

Daily Data

On Jan. 25,  the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 598,660 with 3,694 total new PCR cases reported. There were 645 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 68,291. The total number of individual cases for the state is 666,951. Gov. Murphy noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.

As for those that have passed, the state reported 21 new deaths, bringing that total to 18,851. The state listed probable deaths at 2,121, bringing the overall total to 20,972. State officials noted 52 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 309 new confirmed cases and 58 probable cases, Essex 309 new cases and 38 probable cases, Hudson 343 new cases and 42 probable cases, Morris 193 new cases and and 43 probable cases, Passaic 174 new cases and 17 probable cases, Sussex 73 new cases and 14 probable cases, and Warren 40 cases and three probable cases.

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,247, followed by Bergen at 2,167, Hudson with 1,659, Passaic at 1,407, Morris at 833, Sussex at 198 and Warren County at 179.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 268, Essex has 260, Morris at 202, Hudson has 172, Passaic at 160, Sussex has 53 and Warren has 15.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 21, was 9.6%; by region, the rate was 9.1% in the North, 9.6% in the Central region and 10.9% in the South. 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 0.94 from 0.97 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 3,254 patients were hospitalized with 3,033 cases confirmed and 221 under investigation. By region, there were 1,371 in the North, 1,063 in the Central and 804 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 596 are in intensive care units and 390 on ventilators. A total of 240 patients were discharged, while 314 were admitted.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 57,844, followed by Essex at 57,474, Middlesex at 57,137, Hudson at 54,604, Passaic at 45,855, Union at 43,358, Ocean at 42,613, Monmouth at 42,611, Camden at 35,300, Burlington at 26,987, Morris at 26,200, Mercer at 22,889, Gloucester at 18,328, Atlantic at 16,438, Somerset at 15,719, Cumberland at 10,321, Sussex at 6,574, Warren at 5,219, Hunterdon at 5,117, Salem at 3,746, and Cape May at 3,082.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 6,546, followed by Union at 6,263, Ocean at 4,987, Essex at 4,792, Hudson at 4,396, Morris at 4,131, Atlantic at 4,097, Monmouth at 4,072, Middlesex at 3,934, Passaic at 3,828, Camden at 3,641, Somerset at 3,417, Burlington at 3,261, Cape May at 2,844, Gloucester at 2,553, Cumberland at 1,926, Mercer at 1,212, Sussex at 877, Warren at 564, Hunterdon at 513, and Salem 388.

Another 1,199 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 121 outbreaks involving 597 cases, with 10 new outbreaks accounting for 23 cases reported in the weekly update, have been reported in all 21 counties in the Garden State. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 26 confirmed outbreaks with 115 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has five confirmed outbreaks with 13 cases, Warren has five confirmed outbreaks with 11 cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases, Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 91 cases and Morris County has one confirmed outbreaks with five cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 435 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 15,267 of the cases, broken down between 7,338 residents and 7,929 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,220 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,034 residents and 21,202 staff, for a total of 53,236 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,713 on Jan. 25. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,671 residents deaths and 142 staff deaths.

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 565,401 as of Jan. 25. Of those who have received the vaccine, 492,260 residents have received their first dose with 72,700 their second; 55% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 45% the Pfizer. 

Demographically, 61% of those vaccinated are women and 39% men. As for ethnicity, 48% are White, 20% unknown, 18% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 3% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 30% are 65 years old or olders, 30% are between the ages of 50-64, 30% are between the ages of 40-49, and 11% are between the ages of 18-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 62,161 doses, Essex 44,887 doses, Hudson 25,939 doses, Morris 39,910 doses, Passaic 26,420 doses, Sussex 9,059 doses, and Warren 5,612 doses. 

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