Nearly two months after its implementation, New Jersey announced that 70% of all state employees are fully vaccinated.
Gov. Phil Murphy at his weekly COVID briefing Dec. 13 said the results were as of Dec. 7 from across the 50 state departments, agencies, authorities, and commissions the vaccination or testing policy applied to.
“We undertook a phased in return to work across state government, so some offices are just ramping up their reporting now, and we continue to work with them to refine their reported data,” said Murphy. “Yes, it’s a good start, but it’s going to get better. It needs to get better.”
“The results are a starting place, not where we will end up.”
The mandate for state workers went into effect Oct. 18, the same day as school staffers, as employees face the choice of being fully vaccinated or face testing of up to twice a week. The state worker requirement is for all state employees, including those at state agencies, authorities, and public colleges and universities. The school requirement applied to all preschool through 12th grade employees at public, private, and parochial schools, including charter and renaissance schools.
The first mandate was for all workers in New Jersey hospitals, long-term care centers, prisons, and a number of other state and private healthcare facilities and high-risk congregate settings on Sept. 7. The fourth and final one went into effect Nov. 1 for childcare workers.
By the Numbers
Murphy explained that 43 agencies or departments of the 50 reporting have reported full vaccination rates at or above 75%, which he said roughly matches the overall statewide vaccination rate.
“We know there are a significant number of public employees who have received their first vaccine doses and others who remain unvaccinated are submitting to regular testing as required,” said the governor. “We’re also working closely with agencies and unions whose numbers are below this average in ways to get more of their employees vaccinated.”
State officials said that those in non-compliance will face disciplinary actions.
Levels of Discipline
“Any state employees who refuse to comply with the state’s vaccination or testing policy are subject to progressive discipline up to suspension without pay and potentially termination if they chronically refuse to comply,” said Chief Counsel Parimal Garg. “I don’t want to get into the specifics of every single disciplinary instance but agencies have a range of options in order to induce compliance, but there are consequences.”
Murphy added “It depends on where you work, what union you’re a part of…there are potentially different answers to that.”
The governor reiterated that the mandate was about ensuring a safe workplace for everyone so they can provide governmental services to New Jersey residents.
“Just as we know our state employees are focused on providing the best services to our residents, we need them just as focused on protecting the health of their colleagues and the people they serve,” he stated.
As of Dec. 14, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,135,003 with 3,624 total new PCR cases. There were 986 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 176,116. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,311,119.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 24 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 25,778. The state listed probable deaths at 2,835, bringing the overall total to 28,613. State officials noted 15 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Dec. 14, Bergen had a total of 272 new confirmed cases and 106 new probable cases, Essex 312 new cases and 48 new probable case, Hudson 229 new cases and 28 new probable cases, Morris 241 new confirmed cases and 59 new probable cases, Passaic 169 new cases and 46 new probable cases, Sussex 92 new cases and 22 new probable cases, and Warren 75 new cases and 15 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,874, followed by Bergen at 2,732, Hudson with 2,191, Passaic at 1,845, Morris at 1,061, Sussex at 288, and Warren County at 241.
In regards to probable deaths reported Dec. 13, Bergen has 312, Essex has 310, Morris has 267, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 73 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported Dec. 14, it dropped to 1.33 after four straight days of 1.41. The daily rate of infections from those tested Dec. 9 was 8.0%; by region, the rate was 7.5% in the North, 8.5% in the Central region and 8.4% in the South.
The state reported 1,698 patients were hospitalized as all of the state’s 71 hospitals reported. By region, there were 656 in the North, 561 in the Central and 481 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 330 are in intensive care units and 148 on ventilators. A total of 147 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
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.
According to the state dashboard, new student cases totaled 4,998 and new staff cases 1,168 in the last week as of Dec. 5. Cumulatively, 38,044 cases have been reported— 31,068 students and 6,976 staffers.
The vaccination rate for teachers in the Garden State is 80.5% overall. In North Jersey counties, Bergen was tops at 90.8%, followed by Sussex at 86.1%, Warren at 86.0%, Passaic at 86.0%, Morris at 84.3%, Essex at 82.5%, and Hudson at 79.0%, the third lowest county in the state.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions as of Dec. 8, the state has tracked 248 school outbreaks and 1,345 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 31 outbreaks and 173 cases from the week previous.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey in the new report, Passaic County has 10 confirmed outbreak with 108 cases, Bergen County has 24 confirmed outbreak with 97 cases, Morris County has 15 confirmed outbreaks with 88 cases, Sussex has 17 confirmed outbreak with 66 cases, Essex County has 13 confirmed outbreak with 56 cases, Hudson County has 12 confirmed outbreaks with 44 cases and Warren County has one confirmed outbreak with four cases..
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 166 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,365 of the cases, broken down between 678 residents and 687 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,936 long-term care facilities reported an outbreak infecting 34,414 residents and 23,649 staff, for a total of 58,063.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,735 on Dec. 14. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,035 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,693,171 in-state, plus an additional 520,272 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,213,443 as of Dec. 14.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,106,935 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 235,483 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,342,418. A total of 7,127,428 have received at least their first dose, or 84% of those eligible, as of Dec. 13.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 912,701 for Pfizer and 785,048 for Moderna. A total of 38,294 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 1,709,043 have received a booster or third shot, or a total of 36% of those eligible.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 671,826 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 538,387, Hudson 480,113, Morris 362,773, Passaic 328,841, Sussex 87,224, and Warren 56,846.