N.J. Orders State Hospital, Jail Staffs to Vaccinate or Test
(Bloomberg) -- People who work in New Jersey state-run hospitals, nursing homes and jails must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 7 or undergo routine Covid-19 testing, Governor Phil Murphy said.
The order applies to veterans homes, psychiatric hospitals, home health agencies, the acute-care University Hospital in Newark and other high-risk congregate-care facilities. Additional employees may be subjected to the requirement if virus data continue to worsen, Murphy said Monday at a press briefing.
Murphy, a first-term Democrat facing re-election in November, encouraged private employers to implement tougher standards. As of July 31, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified all but one of New Jersey’s 21 counties as having high or substantial transmission rates. The week prior, 11 counties fell into those groups.
“The delta variant is now working its way across our state,” Murphy said. “The surest way to end this pandemic is through vaccination.”
New Jersey is among the most shot-compliant U.S. states, having beaten its own June 30 deadline for 70% of the eligible population to be fully vaccinated. Still, cases and hospitalizations are rising. Ed Lifshitz, medical director of the state health department, said the rising numbers were the result of the delta variant’s more contagious nature.
“The virus has changed,” he said.
New Jersey had 540 people hospitalized for Covid-19 in New Jersey on Sunday, a 29% increase over a week and 76% over a month. By comparison, 2,294 patients were hospitalized April 1. New Jersey health officials say that since mid-January, unvaccinated people have accounted for 99% of Covid-19 hospitalizations.
Of 4.9 million fully vaccinated people in New Jersey as of July 19, there were 6,381 Covid-19 cases, 195 hospitalizations and 50 deaths, according to Murphy.
The New Jersey rule comes a week after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs put the order in place for its 380,000-employee health system. The American Medical Association on July 21 strongly recommended such a policy nationally in a joint statement with about 50 other groups representing nurses, dentists, surgeons and others in health care.
New York is mandating that public-facing employees at its hospitals get vaccinated, and is seeking to require state workers to get shots or weekly tests. New York City is requiring shots or tests for city workers.
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