More NJ staff will need to be vaccinated or COVID tested weekly
New, contracted workers with the state will be required to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday.
An executive order being signed by Murphy would cover such workers signed to deals moving forward, joining all direct state employees in the same protocols.
When asked, the governor said he had no specific number on how many people that would impact, but added it does apply to contracts signed for construction and cleaning, among other sectors of work.
He said he believed it would ultimately add up to “hundreds into thousands” of additional workers.
“We must ensure that everyone providing service to the people of New Jersey is being held to the same public health and safety standards,” the governor said on Twitter, while announcing the directive during the state pandemic briefing held remotely on Wednesday.
The directive was announced two days after a rally in Trenton drew roughly 500 protesters, as reported by NJ Spotlight News, who were critical of any required COVID vaccines, mask wearing and even regular COVID testing, as an alternate to being vaccinated.
The event outside the Statehouse was timed the same day as the deadline for the state's mandate, requiring school staff and teachers as well as state employees to either be vaccinated or agree to weekly testing.
Two dozen judiciary and educations have also filed a lawsuit against Murphy, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and other government officials and agencies. The suit alleges the mandates "violate the liberty and privacy rights protected by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, including the right to refuse medical procedures and the right to not be medically surveilled by government actors." The suit also claims the mandates violate the Fourth Amendment "prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure."
At least one of the three COVID vaccines available has been fully FDA approved — the Pfizer brand — since August. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson brand vaccines both continue to be offered under emergency use authorization by the FDA.
More than 12 million doses of vaccine now have been administered in New Jersey, while the number of fully vaccinated people who live, work or study in-state is nearly at six million, at 5.99 million as of Wednesday.
Signs held by attendees at the rally called requiring either a weekly test or vaccine "medical tyranny," as seen in coverage by TapInto.
As of mid-week, 880 COVID patients were in hospitals statewide, including 208 patients in ICUs and 123 ventilators in use.
The state also reported 1,150 new cases and 351 likely cases, based on test results.
There were 15 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths, bringing the cumulative total of COVID deaths in the state to 24,973.
Across the Hudson River, a more stringent vaccine mandate was unveiled for municipal workers in New York City on Wednesday.
Police officers, firefighters and other city workers would have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid leave, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, with a Nov. 1 deadline for receiving the first dose.