TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Workers at New Jersey's state-run and some private health care facilities and high-risk congregate-living centers must get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo regular testing for the virus, Gov. Phil Murphy mandated on Monday.
Murphy, a Democrat running for reelection this year, said the change would likely affect "many thousands" of workers, but couldn't specify how many.
The requirement comes as new cases, particularly involving the contagious delta variant, are climbing in the state and elsewhere in the country.
Murphy's order affects about a dozen state-run facilities, including the three Veterans Affairs homes, state correctional facilities and those run by the Juvenile Justice Commission.
The private facilities affected include long-term care facilities like nursing homes, along with county jails, acute-care hospitals and licensed behavioral health centers.
"We are taking this step today because it has been proven time and time again that vaccines save lives and are our way out of this pandemic," Murphy said.
Initially, Murphy said the state's goal for herd immunity was to have 70% of the adult population vaccinated but that's now changed.
"We'd really like to get to 80% or 85% of everybody," said Murphy.
Dr. John Zurlo, an infectious disease specialist with Jefferson Health, says there's no clear number for herd immunity with the delta variant.
"We're seeing this highly contagious variant that's shaken us up a bit. But I think the most responsible reporting that we can do is we know that vaccination is very effective in preventing people from developing serious COVID-19," said Zurlo.
CDC COVID-19 Transmission Levels by U.S. County
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New Jersey's seven-day rolling average of new cases has risen over the past two weeks from nearly 409 on July 17 to 938 on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Impacted state settings include:
- Ancora Psychiatric Hospital
- Ann Klein Forensic Center
- Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital
- Trenton Psychiatric Hospital
- Paramus Veterans Memorial Home
- Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home
- Vineland Veterans Memorial Home
- Developmental Centers
- University Hospital
- State correctional facilities
- Juvenile Justice Commission Facilities
Impacted private facility settings include, but are not limited to:
- Long-term care and assisted-living facilities
- County jails
- Acute-care hospitals and specialty hospitals
- Short-term and post-acute in-patient rehabs
- Licensed behavioral health facilities
- Home health agencies
The Associated Press contributed to this report.