Schools Remain Open As State Eagerly Awaits Delivery Of Vaccine

Governor Phil Murphy (Photo courtesy Governor's Office)

  NEW JERSEY – Speaking on CNN, Governor Phil Murphy said that at least for now, the state’s 3,000 schools will not be going back to remote only instruction.

  While there have been reported outbreaks at 56 New Jersey schools they were not enough to justify statewide remote instruction according to the governor.

  Murphy spoke about the state’s plans to receive its first supplies of vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic indicating that would be around Christmas provided that the federal government approves a request for emergency use.

  The governor also discussed the state’s reaching a figure of 14,900 deaths related to the pandemic, plus an increase of 3,635 positive cases of the virus.

  That gives the state a total of 290,370 cases since March. He reported that there were 2,505 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of November 20.

  That total includes 452 in intensive care and 233 on ventilators.

  Pfizer has applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use of the vaccine, reporting the vaccine proved 95 percent effective in trials. Should it be approved the state would receive around 130,000 doses in the initial shipment.

    The vaccine must be administered twice, 21 days apart, and a second shipment of 130,000 would arrive by the end of December according to the governor.

  It is expected that the first phase of vaccinations will be limited to health care workers but the ultimate goal is vaccinated 70% of the adult population which is around 4.6 million state residents according to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. She said she hopes to see this happen within six months’ time.

  Beyond that goal the state also wants provide equitable access to a vaccine and achieve maximum community protection along with building protection for the humanity and public trust.

  Murphy acknowledged that in reaching that 70 % goal of adult immunization a major obstacle to faced is the need for added federal funds. He gave the figure for that as being around $8.1 billion. He wants Congress to step with assistance for that.

  Representatives of the firm Moderna said in September that it expects 20 million doses of its vaccine by the end of the year. , Their vaccine is about 95 percent effective and will also  require two doses. The state could receive 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of next month with the second dose in January.,

  Moderna’s vaccine is administered 28 days apart. According to Persichilli, the state could have between 400,000 and 460,000 doses of vaccine in New Jersey by early January. The Pfizer vaccine will be shipped directly to about 40 hospitals in the state that are able to provide the ultra-cold storage needed for its vaccine. The Moderna vaccine only requires regular refrigeration.

CVS and Walgreens, with whom the federal government has existing agreements with will be providing most of the vaccinations for the general population. That will be for the second and third phase according to Persichilli.

  AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are two additional firms running late-stage coronavirus vaccine trials run which resumed after suspending them following cases of “serious illness” in a several volunteers.

 As of November 17, the indoor gathering limit decreased from 25 to 10 people. As of 6 a.m. on November 23, the outdoor gathering limit was lowered from 500 people to 150 people. “As we have been saying for weeks, this will not be a normal holiday season, and it’s incumbent on all of us to avoid the type of gatherings that have proven to be particularly dangerous places for COVID-19 to spread,” Governor Murphy said.

  The governor added, “with the alarming numbers we are seeing right now, we have to take these steps to preserve and protect public health and to slow the spread of this virus.”