With the expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine to pharmacies by the federal government starting next week, Gov. Phil Murphy believes it will begin to rectify the issues of access for underserved communities.
“Since most Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, this program will expand our footprint in areas of high need and is poised to receive direct allocation from the federal government without tapping into the state supply,” said Murphy at a press briefing Feb. 3. “The big point is that’s another channel in addition to the doses that we’re getting as a state.”
The Biden Administration announced on Feb. 2 it will begin distributing a limited number of COVID-19 vaccine doses directly to retail pharmacies across the nation, including CVS pharmacies in New Jersey. The government will ship initially about 1 million doses per week to about 6,500 pharmacies through the new program.
The vaccine sent directly to pharmacies starting Feb. 8 will be in addition to the weekly shipments to states, which total roughly 10.5 million doses in the U.S.. The doses are separate from an ongoing federal program to have CVS and Walgreens vaccinate residents of long-term care facilities in the Garden State.
Murphy said an increase of doses will help those he knows have been frustrated in getting an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We know that appointments remain hard to come by but please understand that this is because we just don’t have the supply we need to satisfy demand,” he said. “As our supply which we receive from the federal government increases, we will be able to open more and more appointments.”
The governor reiterated the expansion to pharmacies falls in line with his stated goal of making sure there is equitable access to vaccines. The state’s six mega sites were chosen as being accessible not only by car but by mass transit and the 270 vaccination sites throughout the state are located at community health centers.
“We know that this virus has had an outsized impact on our Black and Brown communities, and in communities that have been historically under-resourced, especially in terms of medical care,” he said.
To increase the reach to these communities, the state will look to build on its coronavirus testing program in the Spring and Summer last year that incorporated churches—with details still being worked out.
“As we move forward, we will be working directly with our communities of faith to turn houses of worship and other community gathering places into vaccination centers for local residents, essentially bringing the vaccines to them,” said Murphy. “We are going to follow the same game plan and model for COVID vaccination (as for testing).”
New Jersey Success
The governor reported vaccinations in long-term care facilities, administered by CVS and Walgreens, had increased in the past two week after state officials expressed frustrations at the pace the does were being administered.
“A couple of weeks ago, the CVS/Walgreens amount of shots administered divided by the amount of shots that they had received was 12%,” said Murphy. “That number stands (Feb. 3) at 50%.”
For the doses allocated to state channels, the number of shots administered is 70%.
“Both of those numbers, as we predicted, are moving in the right direction,” said Murphy. “We just need more supply.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 876,529 as of Feb. 4. Of those who have received the vaccine, 715,226 residents have received their first dose with 161,276 their second; 55% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 45% the Pfizer.
Demographically, 60% of those vaccinated are women and 40% men. As for ethnicity, 49% are White, 19% unknown, 19% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 3% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 35% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 27% are between the ages of 40-49, and 9% are between the ages of 18-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 95,035 doses, Essex 68,818 doses, Hudson 40,326 doses, Morris 64,352 doses, Passaic 40,693 doses, Sussex 14,254 doses, and Warren 8,531 doses.
On Feb. 4, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 633,731 with 2,503 total new PCR cases reported. There were 864 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 75,365. The total number of individual cases for the state is 709,096. 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 101 new deaths, bringing that total to 19,606. The state listed probable deaths at 2,187, bringing the overall total to 21,793. State officials noted 75 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 295 new confirmed cases and 123 probable cases, Essex 142 new cases and 47 probable cases, Hudson 223 new cases and 51 probable cases, Morris 131 new cases and and 60 probable cases, Passaic 129 new cases and 39 probable cases, Sussex 18 new cases and 13 probable cases, and Warren 30 cases and 16 probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,304, followed by Bergen at 2,228, Hudson with 1,708, Passaic at 1,449, Morris at 853, Sussex at 200 and Warren County at 185.
In regards to probable deaths updated once a week, Bergen has 273, Essex has 257, Morris at 216, Hudson has 173, Passaic at 163, Sussex has 57 and Warren has 16 as of Feb. 3.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 30, was 8.7%; by region, the rate was 11.3% in the North, 12.1% in the Central region and 11.9% 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 0.95 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 2,986 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,336 in the North, 941 in the Central and 694 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 531 are in intensive care units and 362 on ventilators. A total of 335 patients were discharged, while 320 were admitted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 61,304, followed by Middlesex at 60,933, Essex at 60,824, Hudson at 57,500, Passaic at 47,921, Ocean at 45,895, Monmouth at 45,479, Union at 45,120, Camden at 36,871, Morris at 28,316, Burlington at 28,141, Mercer at 24,059, Gloucester at 19,427, Atlantic at 17,637, Somerset at 16,634, Cumberland at 10,995, Sussex at 7,041, Warren at 5,624, Hunterdon at 5,470, Salem at 3,966, and Cape May at 3,272.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 7,238, followed by Union at 6,812, Ocean at 5,544, Essex at 5,349, Hudson at 4,756, Morris at 4,734, Monmouth at 4,526, Atlantic at 4,457, Middlesex at 4,318, Passaic at 4,104, Camden at 4,059, Burlington at 3,788, Somerset at 3,661, Cape May at 3,091, Gloucester at 2,841, Cumberland at 2,086, Mercer at 1,387, Sussex at 960, Warren at 614, Hunterdon at 558, and Salem 437.
Another 1,029 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 137 outbreaks involving 655 cases, with six new outbreaks accounting for 58 cases reported in the weekly update on Feb. 3, have been reported in all 21 counties in the Garden State.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 126 cases, Passaic County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Sussex has six confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, Warren has five confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases, Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases and Morris County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 421 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 14,219 of the cases, broken down between 7,064 residents and 7,155 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,227 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 31,823 residents and 20,392 staff, for a total of 52,215 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,788 on Feb. 3. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,701 residents deaths and 142 staff deaths.