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New Jersey achieves its COVID-19 vaccination goal – more than 4.7 million are fully vaccinated now

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New Jersey achieves its COVID-19 vaccination goal — has already vaccinated more than 4.7 million residents — this week, but the state’s economic revival remains an ongoing battle.

While the out-of-work rate edged slightly lower in April to 7.5%, many Garden State residents remain out of work since the pandemic hit more than a year ago. It’s a trend the entire nation has been grappling with, and some states are offering incentives to get people back to work.

While talking to Pix’s Politics Sunday host Dan Mannarino, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy discussed the state’s pandemic recovery plans and his opinion on the idea of incentivizing workers.

I think the incentive you’re seeing, frankly, at the grassroots level are businesses paying up in their wages to get people to come in. And you’re seeing a fair amount of that

Murphy said.

The state governor stated that he was fascinated by a proposal from Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) that would use federal funding to offer a one-time $500 back-to-work bonus to New Jersey residents receiving enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits who start a new job by Aug. 1.

I think what you’re going to see more often than not is you’re going to see the business pay more for labor and pass that on to the consumer, which is why we’re seeing some of the inflation that we’re seeing

he added.

The governor also said struggling small business owners can expect to benefit from the state’s $10.1 billion surplus expected to carry over into the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

I would expect you’ll see significant investment in our public health infrastructure. As we mentioned, small businesses

Murphy said.

We want to make sure we take care of the folks who have hurt the most. Folks who are in arrears on utility payments, rent, mortgage — schools and improving their infrastructure like HVAC systems.

Many parents are already focusing on September and what the new academic year will look like for their children amid ongoing COVID vaccine trials for children under 12 years old.

Murphy has said all students in New Jersey need to return to the classroom full-time this fall, but the governor stopped short of suggesting mandatory COVID vaccinations for eligible children.

“They’ve got to go to school,” he said of students.

And I would just plead with [the parents] to vaccinate their child … but the message is you gotta get back to school. We’re not going to put anyone’s life at risk, if there’s a real health challenge, obviously. We never have, we never will.

When asked whether students will be required to wear masks indoors, which is the current recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Murphy said he hopes not but it’s too soon to make that call.

Looking ahead, the governor said he sees New Jersey in “very strong shape,” but he also noted that the state paid an “enormous price” during the pandemic.

Over 26,000 losses of life, and that’s something we’ll never get over

Murphy said.

Having said that, I think our economy, you’re seeing it right now, is beginning to snap back.

The biggest challenge facing New Jersey in the years to come, according to Murphy, will be facing the inequities that the pandemic laid bare.

Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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