An additional 2,115 positive COVID-19 cases, increasing the statewide total to 955,692 confirmed cases. An additional 18 deaths were announced, increasing the statewide total to 24,188. There are 5,610,433 fully vaccinated NJ residents. Governor Murphy mentioned that booster shots are expected to be administered in NJ in three weeks, pending CDC guidance. It will be recommended for individuals to receive a booster shot 6-8 months after their initial doses. On September 20th, 2.4 million people in NJ could be eligible for a booster shot. Governor Murphy reassured that there is ample supply and a solid delivery mechanism in place to meet the demand for booster shots. The Governor emphasized that most COVID-19 cases in our state are among unvaccinated individuals and encouraged anyone seeking to schedule a vaccine appointment to go to covid19.nj.gov/finder.
The Governor also provided clarification on the difference between a booster shot and a third shot. As defined by the CDC, a “booster” dose is an additional dose for individuals who are not immunocompromised that will allow the immune system to boost up its defenses against the coronavirus. A “third dose” is a necessary additional dose of vaccine for individuals living with an immune system deficiency. As of Wednesday, 41,872 third doses have already been administered to immunocompromised NJ residents. The Governor mentioned that September 20th is when booster shots will begin being administered in NJ, pending CDC guidance and confirmation on if booster shots will need to be given either 6 or 8 months after the initial vaccination.
The NJ Department of Health and the NJ Department of Education will be releasing $267 million to support the K-12 coronavirus testing programs in NJ school districts. School districts can choose between vendors contracted by the state to administer tests or provide an in-house testing program that follows the DOH guidelines. The funding is intended to supplement federal fundings to provide free testing for schools as the school year begins. Department of Health Commissioner Judith Perschilli explained that parental permission will be required to test students under 18. She said that areas with low transmission may not need to do student screening, but high transmission areas should screen students once a week.
Governor Murphy announced during Monday's briefing that NJ will not extend the pandemic unemployment benefits beyond the September 4th expiration date. President Joe Biden had suggested for the states to use the their COVID relief funds to prolong the $300 weekly benefit, but Governor Murphy indicated that the move could cost NJ upwards of $1 billion. The Governor explained that he believes the proper way for federal unemployment benefits to be distributed is through federal action because of the high costs. $337 billion has been administered to NJ residents since the beginning of the pandemic, with $25 billion of the funding coming from the federal government. The Governor further explained that those re-entering the workforce are guaranteed at least $12 an hour wages, guaranteed sick leave, childcare and rental assistance, health care affordability programs and other social safety net programs.
The Governor reiterated that all individuals inside a school must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status this upcoming school year. The Office of Emergency Management has a stockpile of 6 million KN95 and surgical masks, along with 500,000 child-sized masks available for school districts ahead of the school year. The masks will be available at no charge.