NJ expands vaccine eligibility to residents 65+, 16-64 with some medical conditions; state reports record 6,922 cases as death toll tops 20K

TRENTON (1010 WINS) – New Jersey residents 65 and older, as well as residents with medical conditions that put them at risk of "severe illness" from the coronavirus, may get vaccinated starting Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday as the state reported a record number of new cases and its death toll surpassed 20,000 people.

Murphy said that in addition to people over 65, residents “between the ages of 16 and 64 with medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus” will be eligible for the vaccine.

“I want to be careful not to use the word comorbidities, that's not what this is. This is folks with chronic, real-time health challenges between the ages of 16 and 64,” Murphy added.

The governor said the move was “somewhat if not largely based on the anticipation—not guaranteed—but anticipation of increased deliveries of vaccines, as the federal government will no longer be holding back doses.”

Murphy said the state has "set the infrastructure we need to do this job and we are now ready to begin to ramp up our vaccination efforts exponentially."

But he warned residents to be patient as "there is a supply-demand imbalance, which we know full well as of tomorrow morning we are adding to." He said vaccines would still be by appointment only; residents can register at covidvaccine.nj.gov.

Well over 1.5 million residents are over 65 years old in the state, and officials believe there are hundreds of thousands of people between ages 16 and 64 with medical conditions who will now be eligible, Murphy said.

There have been 264,681 vaccines administered in New Jersey so far, the governor said.

The state reported another 6,922 confirmed cases, which Murphy said was a single-day record. The state's positivity rate on Saturday, the most recent day data is available for, was 13.53%.

Hospitalizations rose slightly to 3,726; there were 648 patients in intensive care and 452 on ventilators.

The state reported another 95 deaths, bringing the confirmed death toll to 18,070 people. Along with 2,091 probable deaths, the total death toll is now 20,161 New Jerseyans.

"All told, we have now crossed the threshold of 20,000 residents lost to COVID-19," Murphy said. "For New Jersey, it's almost unfathomable. This is more than 25 times the number of residents we lost on 9/11. And we still mourn their loss. We mourn the loss of every one of those lives, as well as this unfathomable number of folks who have been lost to COVID."