New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy optimistic on rollout

Democratic Governor Phil Murphy was optimistic about the launch of a Covid-19 vaccine in New Jersey on Monday, but urged state residents to continue to follow public health protocols as hospital admissions increase.

“We’re still in the thick of it,” Murphy said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”. The vaccine distribution “is really good news, but I think the next six or eight weeks will be very difficult in New Jersey and our country.”

“There’s a lot of fatigue, a lot of private diffusion, lots of holidays, cold weather – all of this is conspiratorial. In the near future, I’d just … ask people to do the right things and keep their watch,” Murphy added.

The governor’s comments came when the first Americans were vaccinated against Covid-19 outside of clinical trials. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency clearance for the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech on Friday, which kicked off the complex logistics network that allowed health care workers in several states to take their first admissions on Monday morning.

In New Jersey, the first vaccinations for hospital staff will be given Tuesday morning at Newark University Hospital, according to Murphy. The state will initially receive 76,000 doses, which is enough for 38,000 people to get vaccinated as it requires two shots. From there, Murphy said the state will receive “an increased allotment” of Pfizer BioNTech doses each week “until it plateaus” earlier this year.

Murphy also noted that Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine could soon be approved. The FDA meeting was held later that week to review the emergency approval application. In this case, New Jersey expects “another string of shipments over time,” Murphy said.

The rollout of a coronavirus vaccine in New Jersey and across the country is at a critical juncture. The 7-day average of daily new infections in the US is at a record high of 213,748, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The 7-day average of Covid-19 deaths per day is 2,403, according to CNBC analysis, which is also an all-time high during the pandemic. That’s 9% more than a week ago.

Hospital stays are increasing in 24 states, including New Jersey and Washington, DC, according to a CNBC analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project run by journalists at The Atlantic.

Murphy said he understand Americans are tired of pandemic restrictions and said, “I know it stinks. Who doesn’t get tired, including yours?” However, he urged people to hold small holiday gatherings among individuals “in your bladder” in December, continue to wear face masks, and maintain social distance.

“It’s basic principles to rely on. New Jersians were exceptional. We just need one more kick, especially if we get through the holiday season,” Murphy said.

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