As the Murphy Administration enters into the last month to obtain its goal of 4.7 million fully COVID-19 vaccinated adults in New Jersey, state officials are making strategic moves to get to those that have been hardest to reach so far.
“Although we are doing well overall, we do need vaccination uptake to increase in our state,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Vaccine coverage across New Jersey is increasing, but there are pockets and groups with lower rates of vaccinations.”
To that end, New Jersey’s COVID-19 Community Corps have been deployed in such municipalities as Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Bayonne, Jersey City, East Orange, Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, and Trenton to contact underserved communities to provide education, help with registration, and access to vaccination sites. The state has appropriated $8 million to increase door-to-door canvassing campaigns to get more doses into arms in these communities.
“We will leave no stone unturned to ensure as many New Jerseyans as possible are vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “(We have) put even more boots on the ground in the communities where we need more people to go out and get vaccinated.”
Murphy said the reasons for those who have waited to get the shot range from anti-vaxxers to scheduling issues to those who believe the shot is not needed as numbers are getting better and they have not gotten sick.
“I think there is still some amount of knowledge gap, and lastly, the big one, I think, are hard to reach people—homebound, homeless, dense communities—overwhelmingly in communities of color,” said the Governor.
The governor said anecdotal evidence is about half of conversations had are constructive, with residents not knowing the vaccination was free, there was a location close to their home or didn’t know immigration status had nothing to do with the ability to receive the vaccine.
“To me, that’s a good sign, and the numbers, again, continue to go up, so it’ll be more communities and more doors in the communities in which we are knocking,” he said. “We want to make sure everyone has correct information and that no one misses their opportunity to be vaccinated.”
The focus on vaccine hesitancy is secondary for Persichilli—the commissioner stated the issue is more of finding a place residents are confident in.
“I think it’s more making sure that it’s convenient, making sure they’re going to a familiar place where it’s safe,” said the commissioner. “I see the numbers when we get deep into a community, we’re in a local church, we have local faith leaders and elective leaders calling out to people to get vaccinated…the numbers, particularly the equity numbers, go up substantially.”
Persichilli noted another issue is the gender gap, as only 46% of the people getting vaccinated right now are male.
The Power of Women
“I’m going to say to the women, use your power. Convince your male friends to get vaccinated,” she said. “We’ve always said in healthcare that women make the majority of the healthcare decisions for their families, for their loved ones, for their fathers and brothers and husbands and partners.”
Persichilli added, “Using their knowledge and their power of persuasion and encouragement has gone a long way historically to meet certain screening criteria for instance, and we expect that that power still endures today.”
Another demographic state officials are pushing for is young Hispanic men, who are three times more likely to die from COVID than their white counterparts.
“I want to say to the men, nobody is stronger than this virus. No one is stronger than this virus,” said Persichilli.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 8,526,571 in-state, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 8,884,545 as of May 27. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,989,899 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 167,576 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 4,157,475.
Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 46% men. As for ethnicity, 53% are White, 13% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 8% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 28% are 65 years old or olders, 28% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 16% are between the ages of 12-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 938,115 doses (441,589 fully vaccinated), Essex 698,594 doses (321,786), Hudson 597,230 doses (269,473), Morris 561,640 doses (264,889), Passaic 427,125 doses (197,667), Sussex 130,368 doses (61,865), and Warren 84,349 doses (40,040).
As of May 27, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 886,902 with 340 total new PCR cases reported. There were 99 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 128,466. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,015,368.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 14 new deaths, bringing that total to 23,503. The state listed probable deaths at 2,670, bringing the overall total to 26,173. State officials noted 10 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on May 27, Bergen had a total of 30 new confirmed cases and nine nw probable cases, Essex 30 new cases and eight new probable cases, Hudson 22 new cases and three new probable cases, Morris 17 new cases and two new probable cases, Passaic 18 new cases and two new probable cases, Sussex five new cases and no new probable cases, and Warren four new cases and one new probable case.
There are a total of 4,295 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 3,968 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 160 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 156 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and 11 cases of the South African (B.1.351) variant.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,685, followed by Bergen at 2,568, Hudson with 2,064, Passaic at 1,719, Morris at 973, Sussex at 234 and Warren County at 211.
In regards to probable deaths reported May 26, Bergen has 298, Essex has 299, Morris has 257, Hudson has 215, Passaic has 198, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 25.
As for the rate of transmission reported May 27, it increased to 0.78 from 0.75 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of May 22, was 2.8%; by region, the rate was 2.4% in the North, 3.4% in the Central region and 2.9% in the South.
Officials reported 628 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 329 in the North, 147 in the Central and 152 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 123 are in intensive care units and 83 on ventilators. A total of 90 patients were discharged, while 77 were admitted.
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 89,624, followed by Middlesex at 84,592, Essex at 84,448, Hudson at 78,607, Monmouth at 67,359, Ocean at 65,509, Passaic at 65,418, Union at 60,293, Camden at 48,838, Morris at 41,762, Burlington at 38,166, Mercer at 31,519, Gloucester at 26,483, Atlantic at 24,895, Somerset at 24,243, Cumberland at 14,812, Sussex at 11,657, Warren at 8,924, Hunterdon at 8,876, Salem at 5,538, and Cape May at 4,596.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,553, followed by Union at 10,993, Ocean at 10,160, Essex at 9,450, Hudson at 9,211, Morris at 8,252, Monmouth at 8,056, Middlesex at 7,454, Passaic at 7,321, Camden at 6,642, Atlantic at 6,622, Burlington at 5,945, Somerset at 5,759, Cape May at 4,564, Gloucester at 3,981, Mercer at 2,399, Sussex at 2,301, Cumberland at 2,238, Warren at 1,025, Hunterdon at 894, and Salem 537.
Another 743 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 281 outbreaks involving 1,263 cases, accounting for 18 additional outbreaks and 106 cases from the previous weekly update on May 17.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 53 confirmed outbreaks with 202 cases, Sussex has 18 confirmed outbreaks with 78 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 57 cases, Warren has 15 confirmed outbreaks with 36 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 139 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 3,350 of the cases, broken down between 1,313 residents and 2,037 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,468 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,881 residents and 22,270 staff, for a total of 55,151.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,050 on May 27. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,886 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.