NJ COVID Update: State marks anniversary of 1st coronavirus case, New Jersey Transit begins vaccinating

NEW JERSEY (WABC) — Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of New Jersey’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, this as the state expands vaccine eligibility amid a surplus in doses.

The first case of the coronavirus was diagnosed in a man from Fort Lee, but it was Teaneck that became the early epicenter.

By mid March, Teaneck had 18 cases of coronavirus — the most of any municipality in the state — prompting Township Manager Dean Kazinci to the first to make the drastic decision to have residents self-quarantine.

The decision was made to close all schools, municipal buildings, parks, and other places people can congregate, and Teaneck Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin requested all residents only to leave their homes for food and medicine.

Since then, the state has reported about 800,000 cases and more than 20,000 deaths.

Governor Phil Murphy said hope is on the horizon, thanks to three vaccines now authorized for emergency use.

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“It’s been one hell of a year,” he said at a briefing Wednesday. “There’s no other way to put it.”

New Jersey Transit is beginning to vaccinate its workers Thursday, with the agency is receiving 300 doses this week as part of the state’s rollout to vaccinate frontline workers.

The vaccine is available to all workers who are currently eligible and those who are customer-facing employees.

Statewide, about 2.2 million people have had at least one shot of the two-shot vaccines currently being administered, with roughly 740,000 people fully vaccinated.

That’s just over 8% of the state’s population and slightly better than the national average of 7.9%, according to the CDC.

The first Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one shot, is expected to be administered on Friday, the governor said.

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Although Murphy said he thinks vaccination deliveries will pick up by early April, he said that after receiving about 70,000 J&J vaccines this week, no further shipments would come for at least the next two weeks. He didn’t specify why.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state would meet a goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population, or 4.7 million people, by July, a promise the Murphy administration made when the vaccines first rolled out in December.

Persichilli has said the state has been getting about 100,000 Moderna and Pfizer vaccines a week, with the numbers increasing over recent weeks. Still, the commissioner earlier estimated New Jersey would need about 470,000 shots a week to meet demand.

(Some information from the Associated Press)

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