Governor Phil Murphy remains at odds with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the White House over some key COVID policies.

Cash for Shots

As the push for vaccinations intensifies from President Joe Biden, he is strongly recommending that governor's offer cash incentives to get vaccinated. Biden proposes paying the unvaccinated $100 to get the shot, and says they may use federal COVID relief dollars for it. "If Incentives help us beat the virus," Biden said, "I believe we should use them." New Jersey has over $4 billion in unspent federal funding. Governor Murphy's office has not yet said if they will pay people to get vaccinated.

Mask Mandates

President Biden is also strongly urging all kids mask-up when they return to school in the Fall. "The CDC has provided clear guidance on how all schools can safely protect the kids and bring them back to the classroom," Biden said, "Every student wear a mask. It's that simple." Governor Phil Murphy says it's not that simple, and he wants to see how COVID effects schools in other states before making a decision. "We have the ability to play out the clock," Murphy said, "And that's what we're going to do." He does expect a decision on masking in schools by Labor Day.

Vaccine Mandates

As more companies make a COVID vaccine a condition of employment, President Biden signaled support and declared it legal. "The Justice Department has made it clear that it is legal to require COVID-19 vaccines," Biden said. All federal employees will be required to get vaccinated, or be subject to stringent work rules. New York City is requiring all municipal employees to be vaccinated, including police and teacher. Gov. Murphy remains non-committal. "We're looking at a whole number of options as it relates to vaccine mandates," Murphy said, "Our most heightened focus right now is on vulnerable communities."

All of New Jersey's major hospital groups are requiring staff to show proof of vaccination. RWJ/Barnabas Health has begun terminating staff who refuse. Care One, New Jersey's largest operator of private nursing homes announced they will require staff to be fully vaccinated.

College Incentives

Both Biden and Murphy have been relatively silent on how higher education is handling the issue of vaccination, but have signaled support. Most colleges in New Jersey are requiring students to be vaccinated. Stockton University joins Princeton in now requiring faculty and staff to be vaccinated.

Rider University is also holding a vaccine lottery. Any student who provides proof of at least one dose of vaccine by August 1, will be be entered into a tuition lottery. The school says they will draw three names from among the vaccinated next Thursday. The will win free tuition.

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