Gov. Phil Murphy announced the expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate to include all those employed by a school district as well as government employees.
At a press briefing on Aug. 23, Murphy revealed that by Oct. 18, teachers, administrators and staffers, whether full or part time, face the choice of being fully mandated or face testing of up to twice a week. The order applies to all public, private, and parochial preschool programs and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools.
“We’re not going to sacrifice the health of our kids or staff, and masking and vaccinations of both students and staff, along with a layered approach to safety, is our top priority for starting the year,” Murphy said in a move that was hinted at two weeks ago.
Comparison to Southern States
The vaccine mandate for teachers comes after the Murphy Administration reinstated face masks requirements for students, teachers, staff and all those visiting schools on Aug. 6. Murphy’s decision to restore mask as part of the school uniform comes as the Delta variant is causing a surge in cases in New Jersey and across the country. It aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest recommendation that K-12 students mask up, primarily because children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The governor reiterated wearing masks and mandating vaccines or frequent testing is motivated by in order to have in-person instruction for all students this year.
Murphy sought to bolster his argument for the vaccine by detailing issues school districts are facing in the Southeast, including Texas, Georgia, Mississippi—where more than 20,000 students have been exposed—and Florida, highlighting that 13,000 students and staff in Hillsborough County alone are quarantining due to exposure .
New Jersey’s mandate for teachers came on the same day New York City announced it will require every employee of the city’s Department of Education—including teachers, principals, custodians and all central office staff—to have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27, without the option of submitting to weekly testing.
State Employees Too
Further, Murphy said that all state employees—including those at state agencies, authorities, New Jersey State Police officers and public colleges and universities—are required to be fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing at a minimum of once to twice each week by the third Monday of October. State officials offered no details on how testing will be conducted, and that those protocols are still being worked on.
New Jersey already requires all workers in hospitals, long-term care centers, prisons, and a number of other state and private health-care facilities and high-risk congregate settings to be fully vaccinated or be subject to repeated testing. These institutions have until Sept. 7 to comply with the program, Murphy said when he announced the mandate earlier in the month.
The new work rules for those working in education and the state government came as the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 and older, a step that is expected to clear the way for many vaccine mandates by public and private employers across the country.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 10,913,568 in-state, plus an additional 392,703 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 11,306,271 as of Aug. 23. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,320,358 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 171,250 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,491,608.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,228,214 doses (601,650 fully vaccinated), Essex 933,797 doses (449,166), Hudson 852,362 doses (408,293), Morris 670,840 doses (327,864), Passaic 580,097 doses (279,444), Sussex 157,027 doses (77,640), and Warren 102,006 doses (50,015).
As of Aug. 23, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 938,609 with 1,443 total new PCR cases reported. There were 316 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 137,321. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,075,930.
As for those that have passed, the state reported three confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,033. The state listed probable deaths at 2,723, bringing the overall total to 26,756. State officials noted 19 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Aug. 23, Bergen had a total of 102 new confirmed cases and 30 new probable cases, Essex 111 new cases and 14 new probable case, Hudson 75 new cases and 14 new probable cases, Morris 48 new confirmed cases and 16 new probable cases, Passaic 69 new cases and 10 new probable case, Sussex 23 new cases and no new probable cases, and Warren 27 new cases and one new probable case.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,753, followed by Bergen at 2,611, Hudson with 2,113, Passaic at 1,753, Morris at 986, Sussex at 244, and Warren County at 217.
In regards to probable deaths reported Aug. 23, Essex has 306, Bergen has 306, Morris has 261, Hudson has 219, Passaic has 203, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,116,596 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Aug. 9, 10,123 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 58 COVID-related hospitalizations and 50 COVID-related deaths.
In the last week, breakthroughs accounted for 18.3% of all new cases (1,397 of 7,611), 1.8% of new hospilizations (25 of 608), and none of the 53 deaths—the third week in a row that no death from those fully vaccinated.
As for the rate of transmission reported Aug. 23, it declined to 1.23 from 1.25 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Aug. 19 was 5.1%; by region, the rate was 4.5% in the North, 5.3% in the Central region and 6.6% in the South.
Officials reported 946 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 353 in the North, 286 in the Central and 307 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 182 are in intensive care units and 84 on ventilators. A total of 117 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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 113 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 625 of the cases, broken down between 321 residents and 304 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,610 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,128 residents and 22,542 staff, for a total of 55,670.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,447 on Aug. 23. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,893 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.
Thank you for relying on North-JerseyNews.com to provide you the stories from Washington and Trenton that affect us. Please consider supporting North-JerseyNews.com with a voluntary donation.