By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
TRENTON, N.J. — On Monday afternoon, Governor Phil Murphy held a regularly-scheduled COVID-19 briefing during which he outlined New Jersey’s progress in fighting the global pandemic and announced the state’s most significant rollback of pandemic-related safety precautions to date. Although the news shared Monday was mostly good, Gov. Murphy did highlight some areas where more progress is needed on the COVID-19 vaccination front.
Twenty municipalities in the state with a population of more than 10,000 people have still vaccinated fewer than 50% of their populations, according to the state. While some municipalities are making progress and inching closer to that threshold, they were still underneath the halfway mark as of Monday afternoon.
Here’s the full list of municipalities that have failed to vaccinate 50% of its populations as of Monday, with those in South Jersey italicized:
- Asbury Park, 48%
- Plainfield, 48%
- Roselle, 47%
- Garfield, 47%
- Newark, 47%
- Perth Amboy, 47%
- Lindenwold, 46%
- Glassboro, 46%
- Fairfield, 46%
- Wallington, 45%
- Orange, 45%
- Bridgeton, 44%
- Trenton, 43%
- Camden, 42%
- East Orange, 40%
- Lakewood, 39%
- Pemberton, 38%
- Irvington, 37%
- Phillipsburg, 36%
- New Brunswick, 36%
Gov. Murphy said that the state will continue to work with these municipalities to increase their vaccination totals in the coming days and weeks.
These 20 cities account for more than 10% of New Jersey’s total population, but some are making tangible progress in vaccinating community members. Camden vaccinated 3% of its population over the past week, while Pemberton and Asbury Park each added 2% to their COVID-19 vaccine totals since last Monday. Lakewood, Bridgeton, and Lindenwold each inoculated 1% of their respective populations since last Monday, as well.
Although vaccine progress might be slow in some towns, Gov. Murphy still felt comfortable removing New Jersey’s indoor mask mandate, a decision that will take effect on Friday.
“We are not at a point where our in-house count for those who have received at least their first doses is well about our targeted 4.7 million. We know it will only grow over the next four days before the mask mandate expires. We feel very good taking this step,” Gov. Murphy said. “In every decision we have made, we have prioritized your health and that of your family and your community. Every step of the way we have carefully and safely reopened with an eye on ensuring that positive trends would not be reversed.”
Many community members got a bit restless when New Jersey announced that it would keep its indoor mask mandate in place despite the CDC’s guidance suggesting vaccinated people are safe to be indoors without a mask. New York and Pennsylvania both began following CDC guidance by loosening mask restrictions almost immediately after the CDC’s guidance was released, but New Jersey waited two weeks to institute such measures.
Like its neighbors in New York and Pennsylvania, New Jersey will begin taking a laissez-faire approach to enforcing mask-wearing. Individual businesses still reserve the right to require its employees and customers to continue wearing masks and socially distancing, but they aren’t required to do so. They also aren’t required to check people’s COVID-19 vaccination status, and community members are expected to follow the honor system and continue to take precautions if they’re unvaccinated.
As of Tuesday morning, New Jersey had administered a total of 8,434,985 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine models statewide, according to its COVID-19 dashboard. The state reported that 4,107,003 people are now fully inoculated in New Jersey, and 4,805,240 residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine statewide. New Jersey’s initial goal was to fully inoculate 4.7 million — a figure that represents 70% of the state’s adult population — by the beginning of summer.
The CDC’s guidance makes it abundantly clear that the fastest, easiest way to get your life back to normal is by rolling up your sleeves and getting inoculated against the COVID-19 pandemic.
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