“A Beer and a Shot” is taking on a different meaning in May in the Garden State.
As part of their Operation Jersey Summer to meet their 4.7 million COVID-19 vaccination goal by the end of June, the New Jersey Department of Health in partnering with the Brewers Guild of New Jersey to offer anyone 21 and over who gets their first COVID-19 dose a free beer at one of 12 participating breweries.
“A Beer and a Shot” is part of the state’s plan to use traditional and nontraditional methods to get New Jersey residents fully vaccinated by their June 30 target date.
“Over the next eight weeks, we are going to be doing everything we can to make sure that every New Jerseyan recognizes that the vaccines in our toolbox are safe and that they’re effective,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing May 3. “We’re going to make sure they know how easy it is to get vaccinated. We’re going to do everything to make sure that everyone understands that our ability to end this pandemic, to get our economy and our communities backup and fully running again requires all of us to keep working together and getting vaccinated.”
State officials plan to reach out and blanket the state with a public service campaign with information in multiple platforms to help convince those who may still be on the fence to get vaccinated which state officials say is needed for New Jersey to continue to reopen and recover. It’s an effort Murphy said his administration had been planning for the last couple of months.
“We always knew there would be a leveling off after that initial (vaccine) rush, so we have used our time wisely and spent the last several months preparing for just this moment and creating a comprehensive multimedia public awareness campaign to help us to get to our goals,” said the governor. “This campaign is hitting their targets with a variety of strategies from digital marketing and virtual town halls to broad-based television ads.”
Operation Jersey Summer is borne out of a partnership with the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund to speak directly with New Jerseyans to make sure the state is addressing their concerns with the right words.
“Assuming we meet the objectives, both the health data that we do well on this Operation Jersey Summer, that the numbers continue to go in the right direction, (we well be) able to continue to make progress beyond May 19,“ said Murphy.
Steps Being Taken
Among the steps being taken include offering walk-up hours every day with no appointment necessary at the state’s six mega sites; move available doses directly into neighboring community centers and medical offices; giving more localized vaccination numbers to local officials so they can focus on lagging areas; and putting boots on the ground by going door-to-door to residents who preregistered for vaccinations but who have yet to make their appointment.
In an effort to get to those areas with lagging vaccination rates, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the department used one of their mobile command centers for the first time at a festival in Newark this past weekend. The department has identified 40 municipalities that can benefit from mobile or community vaccination efforts based on the percent of racial and ethnic minorities, the percent of those living in poverty, COVID-19 death rates or disease burden, and vaccination rates.
In what Murphy noted is an idea borrowed from get-out-the-vote efforts, the state will work with faith leaders on “Grateful for the Shot,” making it possible for congregants to go directly from religious services to vaccination sites.
“This is a knock-off on Souls to the Polls, which is a similar notion of folks worshiping and going to vote. This is ripped right out of that playbook,” said Murphy. “We know our faith leaders are people residents trust…we relied on our faith leaders to help us expand COVID testing throughout last Summer, and over the past three months, they have opened their doors to turn sanctuaries and community rooms into vaccination centers.”
On the opposite end of that spectrum is the shot and a beer program to encourage eligible New Jerseyans ages 21 and over to get vaccinated. Among those participating in the program in North Jersey are Bolero Snort Brewing Company in Carlstadt, Brix City Brewing Company in Little Ferry, Hackensack Brewing Company, and Magnifying Brewing Company in Fairfield.
“We want one last huge offensive battle to run this thing into the ground once and for all,” said Murphy. “I want to put this in the context of 1945. We had been at war for the past 14 months with this virus, and just as in that era, we are winning this war. Then and now, we’re still losing too many of our comrades.”
“Operation Jersey Summer, this is our comprehensive effort unlike any effort in any other American state to drop the hammer. It’s time to take Berlin and put a stake into the heart of this virus. That is what this is about.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 7,194,785 in states, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 7,552,759 as of May 4. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,153,594 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 157,020 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 3,310,614.
Demographically, 55% of those vaccinated are women and 45% men. As for ethnicity, 55% are White, 12% Hispanic, 10% Asian, 9% other, 8% unknown and 6% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 33% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 27% are between the ages of 30-49, and 12% are between the ages of 16-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 790,190 doses (348,227 fully vaccinated), Essex 568,469 doses (241,631), Morris 487,085 doses (217,007), Hudson 471,744 doses (195,611), Passaic 343,718 doses (147,156), Sussex 110,109 doses (47,433), and Warren 70,127 doses (30,075).
As of May 4, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 876,925 with 1,208 total new PCR cases reported. There were 297 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 125,072. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,001,997. Gov. Murphy previously 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 45 new deaths, bringing that total to 23,033. The state listed probable deaths at 2,625, bringing the overall total to 25,658. State officials noted 22 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on May 4, Bergen had a total of 108 new confirmed cases and 35 probable cases, Essex 168 new cases and 29 probable cases, Hudson 93 new cases and 11 probable cases, Morris 53 new cases and 15 probable cases, Passaic 112 new cases and nine probable cases, Sussex 28 new cases and seven probable cases, and Warren 10 cases and four new probable cases.
There are a total of 2,959 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 2,721 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 141 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 91 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and six cases of the South African (B.1351) variant.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,617, followed by Bergen at 2,537, Hudson with 2,018, Passaic at 1,673, Morris at 964, Sussex at 229 and Warren County at 210.
In regards to probable deaths reported April 28, Essex has 295, Bergen has 295, Morris has 251, Hudson has 212, Passaic has 195, Sussex has 67 and Warren has 25.
As for the rate of transmission, it declined to 0.27 from 0.37 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of April 29, was 4.9%; by region, the rate was 9.4% in the North, 8.1% in the Central region and 9.2% in the South.
Officials reported 1,407 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 666, in the North, 363 in the Central and 378 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 321 are in intensive care units and 204 on ventilators. A total of 127 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.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 88,345, followed by Essex at 84,173, Middlesex at 83,974, Hudson at 78,085, Monmouth at 66,616, Ocean at 64,873, Passaic at 64,637, Union at 59,683, Camden at 47,881, Morris at 41,613, Burlington at 37,612, Mercer at 31,115, Gloucester at 26,003, Atlantic at 24,555, Somerset at 23,921, Cumberland at 14,312, Sussex at 11,463, Warren at 8,716, Hunterdon at 8,686, Salem at 5,403, and Cape May at 4,524.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 13,038, followed by Union at 10,830, Ocean at 9,986, Essex at 9,265, Hudson at 9,036, Morris at 8,039, Monmouth at 7,937, Middlesex at 7,281, Passaic at 7,130, Atlantic at 6,551, Burlington at 6,384, Camden at 6,378, Somerset at 5,636, Cape May at 4,475, Gloucester at 3,874, Mercer at 2,306, Sussex at 2,217, Cumberland at 2,215, Warren at 982, Hunterdon at 870, and Salem 528.
Another 735 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 263 outbreaks involving 1,157 cases have been reported, with 18 new outbreaks accounting for 63 cases in the weekly update on April 27.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 52 confirmed outbreaks with 198 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 52 cases, Sussex has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 55 cases, Warren has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has five confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 219 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 5,635 of the cases, broken down between 2,374 residents and 3,261 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,430 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,811 residents and 22,100 staff, for a total of 54,911cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,030 on May 4. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,871 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.