Are new vaccination goals coming for NJ?

Gov. Phil Murphy held another COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, but did not announce any new significant relaxation of pandemic restrictions. This, despite New Jersey on pace to exceed the vaccination of 70% of the adult population ahead of schedule.

It's that 70% number that Murphy has held out for months as the benchmark for a full reopening of the Garden State. He has also repeatedly said "data determines dates" when it comes to lifting restrictions.

When the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in December, reaching 4.7 million fully vaccinated adults seemed a long way away. In less than six months, New Jersey has given out 6,834,212 total vaccinations. 2,915,754 are fully vaccinated and 4,167,316 have had at least one dose.

In long-term care facilities that were devastated by COVID in the early months of the pandemic, the vaccination rate among residents is 83%.

Nearly every New Jersey resident over the age of 16 is now eligible for a vaccine. Some of the state mega-vaccination sites and local vaccination centers have even begun accepting walk-ins for vaccinations. Just a few weeks ago, it was nearly impossible to schedule an appointment.

What will be even more troubling to many, is Murphy's comments about setting new goals. He was asked on Wednesday about the 70% goal, and whether it would be raised now that census data shows New Jersey gained population. Murphy said they considered it, but "we're going to stick with our initial objective, which is to get to 4.7." But then he added once that goal is met, a new goal "seems likely."

Despite having among the highest vaccination rates and lowest rates of viral transmission, New Jersey has been among the slowest to re-open.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on MSNBC this morning that he expects to lift all pandemic restrictions July 1, pending approval from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. De Blasio cited the city's vaccination progress in making that decision, “Because look, what we’re seeing is people have gotten vaccinated in extraordinary numbers."

Data from the New Jersey State Department of Health, the numbers Murphy reports multiple times a week, show it is virtually impossible for the state to miss that 70% goal, yet Murphy has not set a date for a full re-opening.

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