New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that as of Sept. 7, workers at certain health care facilities and what the state refers to as “high-risk congregate settings” – including both state-run and private – will have to either by fully vaccinated against coronavirus or get tested as often as twice a week.
A press release from Murphy’s office cited the emergence of the delta variant of COVID-19, which is said to be more contagious than the original strain, and the need to protect at-risk populations.
“While reaching our statewide vaccination goal has so far dampened the impact of the Delta variant in New Jersey, some of our most vulnerable populations remain at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 primarily due to exposure to unvaccinated individuals, “Murphy said in a statement. “We are taking this step today because it has been proven time and time again that vaccines save lives and are our way out of this pandemic. Individuals in health care facilities should have confidence in their caretakers, and this measure will help ensure peace of mind for those in higher-risk settings.”
Private facilities impacted by the directive include assisted-living facilities, county jails, specialty hospitals, and some in-patient rehab centers. Public ones include a number of veterans’ homes and psychiatric hospitals.
Those receiving a vaccine that requires two doses for full immunization must get both shots in order to be in compliance, or their facilities must set up a testing program for them to be checked at least one or two times each week.
“Vaccination is the best tool we have to end this pandemic,” New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement. “None of us would want our vulnerable loved ones put at further risk due to their caregiver or healthcare provider. Ensuring these individuals are fully vaccinated or have been tested will help protect those who live in these congregate settings or need hospital care.”
The move goes further than the neighboring state of New York, which has mandated vaccinations for public-facing state hospital workers with no testing alternative, but has stopped short of doing so for anyone else. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he cannot legally extend that beyond public hospitals, but would like others to follow suit.
Cuomo also announced that after Labor Day, workers for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must be vaccinated or be tested.