Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife, First Lady Tammy Murphy, are scheduled to each receive their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this April 9 at the Atlantic City mega-site.
“We were already planning on being there to complete our circuit of visiting all six vaccination mega-sites, and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase a terrific location with plenty of vaccine availability,” the governor said at his April 7 COVID-19 press conference.
Tammy and Phil, who are 55 and 63 respectively, became eligible to get their vaccine as of April 5, after eligibility opened to anyone above the age of 55, and anyone above the age of 16 who has a developmental disability, under an order he signed.
Full eligibility is opening up on April 19 for anyone over the age of 16, which Murphy said is part of a race against the spread of a new wave of cases fueled by the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant.
Hospitalizations climbed to 2,375 patients as of April 6, the highest since the second wave in mid-February, and there are a total of 3,578 cases – 26% up from a month ago. New Jersey and New York have experienced some of the worst spreads of COVID-19 in recent weeks, according to federal health data.
“This is why we are continuing to enforce our statewide mask mandate, especially for indoor activities where we know transmission is more likely and also in the face of the more-transmissible variants we know are among us,” Murphy said.
“It is also a reason why we moved up our vaccine eligibility timeframe aggressively, so we can have more people into the ranks of the fully vaccinated in a shorter amount of time.”
The best- and moderate-case scenarios call for hospitalizations and daily cases to peak on April 18 and then coast down over the summer. A worst-case scenario calls for a peak dragging on from May to June, in what Murphy described as a “long hot summer.”
“And, the most troubling aspect of the high-case scenario isn’t necessarily the peak – although the numbers are concerning – but the slow decline on its other side,” Murphy said.
That figure is 40% of the state’s self-imposed goal of getting shots in the arms of 4.7 million people by June 30, according to Murphy.
Vaccine supply of all three versions has steadily increased week over week for the state, according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
The vaccines are a vital component of permanently rolling back restrictions on businesses, travel and public gatherings, which have been in place this past year to keep the spread of the virus at bay.
President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat, has pleaded for governors to halt their state’s reopenings in order to counter new surges. But, Murphy nonetheless relaxed many restrictions in recent weeks, including last week when he relaxed the capacity at indoor and outdoor venues like concert arenas, and raised the outdoor gathering capacity.