Murphy, with no holiday spike and new president, expresses optimism despite vaccine shortcomings

While acknowledging there still is a supply issue involving getting doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Phil Murphy expressed optimism about the state’s fight against the pandemic for two reasons:

  • We are more than two weeks past the end-of-the-year holidays, and giant spikes in cases from it have not materialized;
  • Joe Biden will be sworn in as president Wednesday.

“God willing, we will turn a page tomorrow with a new administration, get some of this extraordinary unrest in the rearview mirror, and get on with … driving this virus to the ground,” he said.

Murphy said he is counting on the new administration to provide greater transparency in the process, saying what the state has been hearing from pharma companies is different than what it has heard from federal government.

“All that we are currently missing are the doses of vaccines necessary for us to put this machinery into high gear,” he said. “We know that there is pent-up demand and that getting an appointment may be proving challenging.

“However, with the incoming Biden administration taking office tomorrow, and a new federal focus on pushing vaccines out at a greater pace, we are hopeful that will be able to start ramping up our in-state capabilities to meet what we know is a tremendous demand.”

Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing, said — aside from a vaccine shortage — things are looking better.

“Overall, we’re seeing a decent measure of stability across our hospital systems,” he said.

Health Commissioner Judith Perscihilli said the state received slightly more doses of the vaccine during the Tuesday shipment — approximately 111,000, more than the usual 105,000 — but the state is well under what it needs. Perschilli said the state received 18% less than it had expected in December.

Despite this, she and Murphy both said the second dose of vaccines will be available to those who get the first shot.

Other notes:

Health metrics

  • New cases: 3,761 positive PCR tests, cumulative total is now 572,306;
  • Hospitalized: 3,506 (including 643 in intensive care);
  • Fatalities: 54 confirmed COVID-related deaths (cumulative total of confirmed deaths 18,421);
  • Rate of transmission: 1.11.

“If we can continue on this track in terms of our hospitalizations, if we can begin to push our RT back below 1 and keep it there, then we are going to find ourselves in an ever-improving condition as our vaccination program continues to roll out,” Murphy said.


Murphy released the latest numbers on school districts:

  • All in-person: 80;
  • Hybrid: 348;
  • All remote: 399;
  • Mixture of all three: 47.

Final word

Murphy on hopes for early voting in the state — as soon as this year’s primaries:

“My team believes I’ve been showing too much optimism about the ability to get early voting for this primary, and I think that’s going to be really hard. And I don’t want to sugarcoat. I don’t have an exact date for when we’d need to get it done by for the general election, but, going forward, I would hope it applies to primary and general elections and see no reason why it wouldn’t.”