By Diana Higgins
Gov. Phil Murphy held a Covid-19 briefing on April 5, the start of National Health Week. He made several announcements regarding vaccinations and the trends of the deadly virus in New Jersey.
Murphy announced new eligibility for the vaccine in the briefing, adding all New Jersey residents 16 years and older to the list starting April 19. “We are going to make our most aggressive push yet to meet our vaccination goals,” he said. This is 12 days ahead of the governor’s initial target.
“I think it’s a smart move considering the younger age groups right now are spreading the virus,” said Tia Dorman, a junior biology major. However, she also voiced concerns about younger people getting the vaccine over people who may need it more. “It’s a double-edged sword,” she said.
Cally Kerrigan, a junior math major, said that although she thinks young people should be vaccinated, “Young people should not be prioritized over people who are more likely to be hospitalized.”
Murphy also announced that a new vaccine tracker is now live, where anyone can find real time updates on how many New Jerseyans have been fully vaccinated. As of the time of the briefing, 1,796,798 New Jersey residents have been fully vaccinated.
According to Murphy, one million New Jerseyans have gotten either their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in one month, compared to thousands from the past two months.
Even with the many rural and mountainous areas New Jersey has, Murphy said that “98.7% of all New Jersey residents live within five miles of where they can get vaccinated.”
Despite this advancement, Murphy says “Our goal is to ensure even greater access switching from rural into our urban areas, and to have vaccination centers within a 15 minute walk of all residents.”
Mariana Aguiar, a sophomore speech pathology major, has noticed an increase in vaccination centers popping up near her area of residence in Hamilton. Regarding the proximity to each other, she said, “They’re definitely spread out, but it depends because some pharmacies have them, so since they are chains, they’re clumped.”
Travel capabilities have also been a concern since the beginning of the pandemic, but Murphy announced that “Fully vaccinated individuals who travel domestically are no longer required to self-quarantine after their trip or to get tested before or after travel.” However, he also said that the requirement to get tested after traveling internationally still stands.
Murphy also announced the numbers of schools doing in-person and virtual learning. 156 schools are reopening for full in-person teaching, 495 schools are in hybrid mode and 118 schools are still doing completely remote learning, he said.
As the pandemic continues, Murphy will continue to hold briefings to keep citizens up to date on the coming announcements and progress the state has made in regards to the pandemic.