NJ Gov. Murphy says surge in Covid hospitalizations should be a wake-up call to unvaccinated

Phil Murphy, New Jersey’s governor, speaks at a news conference after touring the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center Covid-19 vaccination site in Edison, New Jersey on January 15, 2021.
Mark Kauzlarich | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a warning Monday to residents who haven’t received a Covid-19 vaccine, advising them to register for their first doses as hospitalizations and ventilator usage climb across the state.

While Covid cases appear to be leveling off in New Jersey, Murphy said hospitalizations, ICU room and ventilator use are surging across the state. New cases in New Jersey jumped 5% from a week ago to a seven-day average of 2,003 new cases as of Sunday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Nearly 1,100 people are hospitalized for Covid in New Jersey, with 209 of them in intensive care, according to federal and state data. Murphy said 51% of Covid ICU patients are on ventilators. But Murphy also said the number of ventilators deployed statewide has increased by about 25% over the past week, adding that hospitalizations have risen by more than 10% from Aug. 23.

“These figures should be a wake-up call to the threat that the delta variant poses, again, overwhelmingly to the unvaccinated,” Murphy said.

Despite the uptick in ventilator usage, New Jersey has the lowest percentage of ICU beds utilized for Covid in the entire country, Murphy touted. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows less than 7% of the state’s ICU beds are occupied by Covid patients, compared with 30.5% of ICU beds filled by Covid patients nationwide.

Murphy said that just over 12,200 of New Jersey’s nearly 5.2 million fully vaccinated residents have seen breakthrough Covid cases. He added that only 307 fully vaccinated individuals in New Jersey have needed hospitalization for their symptoms.

“If you’re on the fence, look at these numbers,” Murphy said. “There is no reason to leave your health and the health of your family to mere chance. The vaccines work.” 

With the delta variant sparking a surge in cases, Murphy has implemented a series of mask and vaccine measures aimed at curbing community spread of the virus. The governor recommended July 28 that state residents wear masks in high-risk indoor settings. The following week, he mandated Covid tests for select state employees who aren’t vaccinated.

Murphy also announced Aug. 6 that all staff and students at New Jersey’s schools would have to comply with an indoor mask mandate to start the school year. At Monday’s briefing, he said that all school districts would have free access to a stockpile of roughly 6 million KN95 and surgical masks, and an additional 500,000 masks for children.

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