Gov. Phil Murphy said he expects a “much more normal summer” on the Jersey Shore in the coming months, as the state coasts down from the second wave and vaccine efforts are ramped up.
Last summer, a myriad of business restrictions were in place in an effort to curb the spread of the virus: mask mandates, bans on indoor dining, theaters and gyms, and reduced capacity at casinos and retail. Mask mandates could be one of the longest-lasting restrictions, especially at a crowded indoor space or boardwalk, Murphy suggested.
But continued rollbacks on those restrictions assume an adequate roll-out of vaccines, and a more muted effect that the highly contagious COVID-19 variants have on public health across the state, the governor warned. So far, the variants have triggered spikes across North and Central Jersey, according to state health officials.
Murphy, for that reason, maintained during a Thursday interview on CNBC, that his administration would institute slower, more phased-in reopenings – the total opposite of states like Texas or Mississippi – so as to not run the risk of overwhelming the public health infrastructure.
And the beleaguered vaccine efforts leave a lot to be desired, with many New Jerseyans still struggling to actually get their shot in the arm.
State health officials are expecting a surge of available doses around Easter in early April, thanks to the addition of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine, on top of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna doses.
“If you want to get one by Memorial Day, we’re going to be there for you, I’m highly confident of that,” the governor added.
So far, the state has vaccinated roughly 2.26 million first and second doses. State health officials are aiming to have 4.7 million adults vaccinated by June.
All told, 3.7 million New Jerseyans are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persicihlli.
That added expansion of eligibility will likely mean the largest “supply-demand imbalance” for the next month ahead of an Easter surge in available shots.