State officials announced the first of what Gov. Phil Murphy hinted will be a series COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New Jersey.
By Sept. 7, employees in certain state and private healthcare facilities and high-risk congregate settings contracted with the state will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be subjected to testing at minimum one to two times per week.
Murphy said this requirement will help increase protection against the spread of coronavirus, including the highly transmissible Delta variant, to vulnerable populations who have been hardest hit during the pandemic.
“While reaching our statewide vaccination goal has so far dampened the impact of the Delta variant in New Jersey, some of our most vulnerable populations remain at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 primarily due to exposure to unvaccinated individuals,” said Murphy at his press briefing Aug. 2. “We are taking this step today because it has been proven time and time again that vaccines save lives and are our way out of this pandemic.”
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli added, “Vaccination is the best tool we have to end this pandemic. None of us would want our vulnerable loved ones put at further risk due to their caregiver or healthcare provider. Ensuring these individuals are fully vaccinated or have been tested will help protect those who live in these congregate settings or need hospital care.”
Newly Mandated Workers
Impacted state settings include:
- Ancora Psychiatric Hospital
- Ann Klein Forensic Center
- Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital
- Trenton Psychiatric Hospital
- Paramus Veterans Memorial Home
- Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home
- Vineland Veterans Memorial Home
- Developmental Centers
- University Hospital
- State correctional facilities
- Juvenile Justice Commission Facilities
Impacted private facility settings include, but are not limited to:
- Long-term care and assisted-living facilities
- County jails
- Acute-care hospitals and specialty hospitals
- Short-term and post-acute in-patient rehabs
- Licensed behavioral health facilities
- Home health agencies
Healthcare facilities and other settings covered by the requirement will have until the second Tuesday in September for all employees to come into full compliance with the vaccine mandate. At that time, if workers in the facility/setting have not demonstrated that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the entity will be required to have a plan in place to begin a testing program for those workers.
This testing requirement will not alter any existing policy requiring employees to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment without a testing alternative. The governor said his administration will work in collaboration with union and labor partners ahead of the vaccine-requirement deadline and private sector employers are encouraged to similarly work with labor partners as they implement their own vaccination and testing policies.
Officials stressed the state will pursue an aggressive testing cadence for settings of particular concern under its purview, including the Veteran’s Homes overseen by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs are committed to testing unvaccinated workers three times per week. Murphy noted the state military homes are already testing three times a week for those not vaccinated.
Murphy said private facilities are “strongly encouraged” to consider instituting requirements above and beyond the baseline that will be required by the state.
The governor said more mandates were likely, including for transit and state employees, and if rates do not increase, he will undertake further measures he characterized as “unpopular.”
“Individuals in healthcare facilities should have confidence in their caretakers, and this measure will help ensure peace of mind for those in higher-risk settings,” stated Murphy. “We are prepared to consider additional measures if we do not see a satisfactory increase in vaccination uptake in those settings as this new requirement is put into effect.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 10,505,407 in-state, plus an additional 381,708 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 10,887,115 as of Aug. 2. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,143,945 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 165,296 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,309,241.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,188,953 doses (584,090 fully vaccinated), Essex 889,453 doses (430,419), Hudson 815,264 doses (391,748), Morris 653,057 doses (319,766), Passaic 551,735 doses (267,484), Sussex 152,264 doses (75,508), and Warren 98,473 doses (48,431).
As of Aug. 2, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 909,057 with 937 total new PCR cases reported. There were 216 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 132,102. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,041,159.
As for those that have passed, the state reported one confirmed death, bringing that total to 23,887. The state listed probable deaths at 2,719, bringing the overall total to 26,606. State officials noted four deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Aug. 2, Bergen had a total of 91 new confirmed cases and 30 new probable cases, Essex 89 new cases and seven new probable case, Hudson 50 new cases and 18 new probable cases, Morris 41 new confirmed cases and eight new probable cases, Passaic 38 new cases and 22 new probable case, Sussex 12 new cases and nine new probable cases, and Warren six new cases and no new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,736, followed by Bergen at 2,601, Hudson with 2,098, Passaic at 1,746, Morris at 984, Sussex at 241, and Warren County at 215.
In regards to probable deaths reported Aug. 2, Essex has 305, Bergen has 303, Morris has 260, Hudson has 218, Passaic has 203, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
Of the 4,909,743 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of July 19, 6,381 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 195 COVID-related hospitalizations and 50 COVID-related deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Aug. 2, it remained unchanged from the day before at 1.43. The daily rate of infections from those tested July 29 was 4.1%; by region, the rate was 3.6% in the North, 4.5% in the Central region and 4.4% in the South.
Officials reported 540 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 215 in the North, 181 in the Central and 144 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 95 are in intensive care units and 40 on ventilators. A total of 51 patients were discharged, with 91 COVID positive patients 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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 38 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 157 of the cases, broken down between 94 residents and 63 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,521 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,886 residents and 22,289 staff, for a total of 55,175.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,065 on Aug. 2. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,880 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.