More vaccination milestones — but higher number of cases means Murphy is holding line on more openings

On a day when Gov. Phil Murphy announced that:

  • Two COVID-19 vaccine megasites (Atlantic City and the Meadowlands) have now both crossed the 100,000 shot threshold;
  • New Jersey distributed a half-million shots in one week (bringing the current total to 3,510,311 doses);
  • There have been a total of more than 2.3 million first doses administered of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (which means the state is roughly halfway to initial goal of vaccinating 4.7 million individuals);

there was tough news for those looking for more openings.

“We won’t be opening further capacities for some time now,” Murphy said on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday morning. “We want to do this safely and responsibly.”

The state’s COVID numbers are going in the wrong direction. The rate of transmission remains over 1, at 1.09.

“We are back to leading the nation in the spread of this virus,” he said. “There is no magic wand that … I can wave to stop the spread.”

Murphy said residents need to be more vigilant.

“As I have said, repeatedly, the presence of vaccines does not mean the pandemic is over,” he said. “We still have to work together.

“Please remember that, even if you are vaccinated, the vaccine only protects you from developing severe COVID. It does not make you bulletproof, and you are still capable of spreading the virus to those around you who have not yet been vaccinated.”

That means facemasks.

“Even if you are fully vaccinated, you need to keep wearing your face mask — as we’ve discussed numerous times here, a face mask helps trap the potentially contagious droplets you are exhaling from infecting others,” he said. “And, even if you are vaccinated, you still need to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and to maintain social distances from others.”

Other notes from his Monday COVID-19 briefing:

Long-term care visits

Murphy said new guidance recently released by the federal Center for Medicare Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said long-term care centers in regions with a low or moderate COVID-19 Activity Level Index should be allowing for direct, in-person visits for residents, regardless of vaccination status.

In regions where the CALI is high or very high, and less than 70% of the facility’s residents have been vaccinated, only those residents who have been fully vaccinated should be receiving visitors indoors.

“The overriding principle we are working under is that we recognize that families need to be able to be together, especially when so many have been kept apart for so long,” he said. “With Passover and Easter coming up, we know, especially, that this is a time of year when families gather.

“We expect all our long-term care facilities to work with us, their residents and the families of those residents to allow for visitations under these new guidelines. And, should families be having unwarranted roadblocks put in their way, we encourage them to contact the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 877-582-6995 or online at”

June 8 primary

Murphy said the June primary election will be conducted primarily in-person, with all of the regularly operated polling places open for all voters who wish to cast their ballots on the voting machines.

Final word

“I also must acknowledge the passing of the longtime radio voice of the Scarlet Knights, Joe Boylan, at age 82. He had suffered a stroke last Wednesday. He was a coach with the Scarlet Knights for 12 years in the 1970s and 1980s, and was there for their Final Four run in 1976. He had been behind the mic for games since 2010. He will be missed, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family — and the Scarlet Knights family.”