Residents and staff at long-term care facilities across the state are starting to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, state officials said Monday.
“With each passing day, our vaccination program is growing a little larger and a lot stronger,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a Monday briefing with other state officials. “With the new year, we are looking forward to the opening of our six vaccination mega-sites and the further expansion of our vaccine efforts and the continued movement through each priority group. … We are ready for this moment and we know countless residents, more importantly, are as well.”
The first two long-term care vaccine recipients were 103-year-old Roosevelt Care Center resident Mildred Clements and nurse Esther Moodey in Middlesex County earlier Monday. This is the second demographic, behind health care workers, to receive the vaccine.
State officials previously said the Atlantic City Convention Center will serve as a “mega” vaccination site starting early next month, one of six sites across the state.
“Long-term care facilities across New Jersey and the entire nation have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Murphy said. “Over the past nine months, we have paid an incredible cost, but today is another positive step forward in our fight against this virus.”
Through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, officials already have 299 long-term care facilities scheduled and over 83,000 residents and staff slated to receive vaccinations through the beginning of February, with more sites to be added in the coming weeks, officials said.
“Throughout this pandemic, the residents and staff of our long-term care facilities have been among the most severely impacted,” said Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “With the start of this large-scale vaccination effort today, we are continuing to strengthen protections for our most vulnerable populations, along with the staff who have been truly courageous in caring for them.”
The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey has increased by 2,745, bringing the total to 463,965, Murphy said. There have been 21 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 16,706 with 1,945 probable deaths.
There are 3,684 people hospitalized across the state, including 715 people in intensive care and 505 people on ventilators, Murphy said. The positivity rate is 10.98%, while the rate of transmission is .96.
South Jersey’s positivity rate is 12.63%, Persichilli said.
Also during the briefing, Murphy urged residents to keep their New Year’s Eve gatherings small, with only people from the same household.
“This is not the year for a wild New Year’s Eve party — I hope that year comes again, soon,” Murphy said. “Even Times Square in New York City will be empty.”