New Jersey's COVID-19 numbers climb as delta variant spreads

As the delta variant spreads, New Jersey has more cases per capita compared to Pennsylvania and Delaware.
TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey health officials are urging people to get vaccinated as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise.

On Monday, state officials said 99% of hospitalizations and deaths since mid-January have been among the unvaccinated.

"Because of the vaccines, this is a pandemic as we've been saying now for many weeks, among the unvaccinated. The protections they afford to the fully vaccinated cannot be contested," said Murphy. "Over the past week, the number of confirmed COVID positive patients in our hospitals increased roughly 30% over two weeks ago."

As the delta variant spreads, New Jersey has more cases per capita compared to Pennsylvania and Delaware. And while nearly 70% of New Jersey's adults are vaccinated, officials say it's not enough.

"To reverse the increases in the hospitalizations that we're seeing in the cases in our state, we need even more New Jerseyans to get vaccinated," said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

She specifically addressed vaccinations among the younger age brackets, saying among those ages 18-29, 62% have received at least one dose. That number is 44% for people ages 12-17.

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"Vaccinating my child? I don't think that's something I'm going to be doing anytime soon," said Suszana Cohen of Hightstown.

She says she got vaccinated because she has a compromised immune system, but has serious reservations about her son when he's eligible.

She says so far, the efforts of health officials haven't convinced her.

"I know why they're trying to put that fear to get people moving, and people need to do what they need to do to be safe, but it should be really left up to an individual basis," said Cohen.

Meanwhile, more employers are mandating vaccines.

On Monday, New York City announced a mandate that all city workers get vaccinated or receive weekly tests starting this fall.

RELATED: NYC to require vaccines or weekly testing for city workers, including teachers and police officers

One of New Jersey's largest health care systems just announced it will require vaccinations for all staff members by this fall.

In May, RWJ Barnabas Health mandated that supervisors get vaccinated. Six employees were recently fired for refusing.

In New Jersey, companies are allowed to mandate vaccines, with exceptions for medical conditions and religious exemptions.

Over the weekend Dr. Anthony Fauci said the CDC is considering recommending that even the vaccinated wear masks in public as cases continue to rise.

Perry Halkitis, Dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health says with the Delta variant spreading so quickly, he's still wearing a mask in many public places even though he's vaccinated.

"Here's my suggestion to people: do the behavior yourself before it gets mandated. Before you get sick before you infect anyone," said Halkitis.

We found people frustrated with those who aren't vaccinated.

"I still wear my mask all the time because of my health concerns," said Vic Ramnath. "Everybody should take the vaccine. Don't tell me it's because, 'Oh I'm young. Oh, I don't take vaccines.' You're killing people out here."
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