Governor Phil Murphy

This Week in NJ: March 26th, 2021


Governor Murphy Expands Eligibility For New Jersey's Covid-19 Vaccination Program

Governor Murphy announced the expansion of eligibility for more frontline essential workers and high-risk groups in New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Eligible groups include individuals ages 55-64, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, higher education educators and staff, and communications and utility infrastructure workers among others.

“Our Administration has worked closely with communities to build an extensive vaccination infrastructure and has opened over 700 vaccination sites across the state,” said Governor Murphy. “We are already averaging approximately half a million shots per week, and with an expected increase in our federal allocation, we are confident we can expand our vaccination program to more of our essential workers and vulnerable populations. Together with our community partners and a steady supply of vaccine from the federal government, we will meet – and exceed – our goal of vaccinating 4.7 million New Jersey adults.”
“New Jersey’s phased vaccine rollout continues to prioritize preventing severe illness and death and supporting essential societal functioning,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “With the anticipated increased supply of vaccine, more New Jersey residents will have the opportunity to be protected against COVID-19."

“The strength and resilience of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout this public health emergency has been amazing,” said New Jersey Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “We’re very pleased to be able to make vaccination more accessible so individuals can return to their normal lives in the community. In partnership with the Department of Health, we have been working since January to help vaccinate individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in congregate settings, and have been encouraging individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who met other criteria to sign up for vaccination. We’re now thrilled to be able to include all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities over the age of 16, who, along with their families and caregivers, have persevered through so much in the past year. I encourage all eligible individuals to register to get vaccinated and help bring this pandemic closer to an end.” 


Governor Murphy, Biden Administration Announce New Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Center In Newark

In partnership with the Biden Administration, Governor Phil Murphy announced the planned opening of a pilot Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community Vaccination Center located at the Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Facility at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. As part of the shared goal of the Murphy Administration and Biden Administration to efficiently and equitably administer COVID-19 vaccinations, the Community Vaccination Center will have the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 individuals per day, seven days per week. Vaccines will be provided directly from the federal government, above and beyond the state’s regular allocations. Supported by the federal government in partnership with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey Department of Health, Essex County, and City of Newark, the Community Vaccination Center will target vulnerable communities based on the Centers for Diseases Control’s Social Vulnerability Index.  

“Ensuring vaccine equity by reaching deep into communities with higher risks of virus exposure and infection is among our highest priorities,” said Governor Murphy. “By bringing a Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Center to New Jersey, we are one step closer to reaching our goal of vaccinating 4.7 million New Jersey adults in an efficient, effective, and equitable manner. I am incredibly grateful to President Biden and his Administration for not only their partnership, but their leadership and bold action, to provide us with the vaccines and support necessary to vaccinate the public and end the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

"We are continuing to bring more federally-run mass vaccination centers online, including 3 new sites we are announcing today, in Boston, Massachusetts, Norfolk, Virgnia, and Newark, New Jersey," said Jeff Zients, Counselor to the President and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator.

"We are pleased to again be partnering with FEMA in expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines to residents of underserved communities in New Jersey," said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. "The state's vaccination program has been guided throughout by equity, and we are working hard to make vaccines available in areas that have been impacted the hardest by the virus." 


Governor Murphy, Attorney General Grewal, and Congressman Kim Hold Roundtable Discussion on Rise in Bias Incidents in New Jersey

Governor Phil Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, and U.S. Congressman Andy Kim held a roundtable discussion on bias and hate crimes, one week after a shooting rampage in Atlanta, Georgia that left eight dead, including six Asian women.

The roundtable took place as Attorney General Grewal and State Police Superintendent Patrick J. Callahan released preliminary data reporting 1,441 bias incidents in New Jersey in 2020 – the highest annual total ever – with dramatic increases in incidents targeting Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian and LGBTQ+ individuals.

“As we were starkly reminded by the horrific shootings last week in Atlanta, our country has a hate problem,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “And the data we just released in New Jersey shows that we are not immune to it. We held a roundtable today because we need to talk about this problem and tackle it head on. We’re taking the lead through innovative initiatives to allow us to identify the sources of bias and intolerance, and to take the right steps to eradicate hate in our wonderfully diverse state. We’re committed to protecting our residents and making New Jersey safer, stronger, and fairer.”

“Today’s reporting should serve as a wake-up call to all of us that we must redouble our efforts to push back against this rising tide of hate and intolerance we’ve been experiencing not just in our country, but also in the Garden State,” said Attorney General Grewal. “While the conduct of many of our leaders and the failure of social media platforms to take adequate action have helped fuel this rise, in New Jersey we are doing all we can to not allow hate to become normalized. By raising awareness as we are today and through our increased enforcement and education efforts, I am confident that we will begin to see these alarming trends reverse course.”

“The fight to stop Asian hate starts with lifting up Asian voices. The pain of discrimination has been felt by so many across our state and country, and last week’s murders were a stark example of the high cost of inaction,” said Congressman Andy Kim. “I want to thank Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal for joining me in lifting up the stories of AAPI New Jerseyans. Being heard is an important step towards healing and towards the solutions we need right now to put an end to these horrible acts.”

“Although bias incidents are trending in the wrong direction, the law enforcement community in New Jersey is moving in the right direction by implementing a variety of proactive initiatives to combat hate and intolerance, which includes an increase in the frequency of publishing bias data, educational programs, and an online reporting portal to make it easier for residents to report bias incidents,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Earlier this year, the New Jersey State Police reaffirmed its commitment to treat all of the residents of our diverse state with professionalism and compassion by establishing the Office of Employee Relations and Community Outreach. This new office is comprised of aligned units that will allow us to expand our outreach capabilities throughout the state, and our newly-created Diversity and Inclusion Unit—the first of its kind in our 100-year history—will be spearheading outreach to underserved communities and implementing strategic inclusion initiatives for both our enlisted and civilian members and our communities throughout the state.”


Governor Murphy Appoints Charles Barker to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission

Governor Murphy announced the appointment of Charles Barker to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), completing the five-member commission after previous rounds of appointments in November and February. Mr. Barker will fill the seat previously announced for William Wallace, who will transition to the senior staff role of Director of Labor Relations for the Commission.

“As we move forward with our effort to establish a legal adult-use cannabis market, I am excited to add Charles Barker to our Cannabis Regulatory Commission,” said Governor Murphy. “I know Charles has the experience, commitment, and skills needed to help build a fair and inclusive adult-use cannabis market that will serve as a national model. We’re thrilled to welcome Charles to the Commission and look forward to his continued public service.”

“As a young Black man from an underserved neighborhood in New Jersey, I am humbled to join the Cannabis Regulatory Commission and bring my perspective to the table,” said Charles Barker. “For generations, the misguided War on Drugs has devastated entire families and communities. I know this experience first-hand from being unjustly profiled and pulled over, illegally searched, and scolded many times by the police simply for the color of my skin. This is very real for me.” 

“Family members and friends of mine endured even harsher realities and have been gravely impacted by this war on people,” continued Mr. Barker. “I’m thankful to God, and honored that the Governor has entrusted me with the responsibility of promoting equity and restorative justice as we establish and regulate a new adult-use cannabis marketplace.”  

“Charles has been an incredibly valuable member of our team with an important voice on issues from criminal justice reform to equitable marijuana legalization policy, and I know he will continue to stand up for justice in this new role,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “While we will miss Charles and the incredible spirit he brings to our team, I am confident that he is the right person for this historic responsibility, and all of New Jersey will be better for it.”


Governor Murphy Announces Stimulus Payment Protection For New Jerseyans Recieving Federal Relief During Covid-19 Pandemic

Governor Phil Murphy announced that financial institutions across New Jersey have put in place measures to protect federal stimulus funds being provided to New Jerseyans during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The American Rescue Plan is for the American people, not the banks and creditors,” said Governor Murphy. “We want residents who have received their federal stimulus funds to be able to put it to use as they deem necessary. I am pleased that 50 banks and credit unions have signed on to our agreement to protect these federal payments being received by New Jerseyans from being garnished for past debts or overdrawn accounts.” 

“We know that many New Jersey residents are facing financial challenges as a result of the pandemic. This initiative is aimed at making sure New Jerseyans can access their stimulus funds and use them to cover essential expenses during this critical time,” said Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride. “We thank the banks and credit unions that have committed to providing stimulus payment protections to our residents and welcome additional institutions to join in this effort.” 

"Many New Jersey families have suffered economically and emotionally during the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these same families will need federal stimulus money to help continue their daily lives, such as buying groceries, paying the light bill, or providing regular medical care for their children," said Senator Nellie Pou. "These families should not be forced to use federal relief money to pay off a creditor, while they are still trying to recover financially from the pandemic, which may have caused a member of the household to lose their job. These new 'relief' checks are meant to provide a small measure of immediate relief, and that is how they should be used.” 

“I applaud Governor Murphy and Commissioner Caride for taking swift action to prevent the garnishment of the $1,400 direct stimulus payments for past debts or overdrawn accounts,” said Assemblyman John McKeon. “Many New Jerseyans are relying on this much needed federal relief to help their families get by during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis. This money is to be used to support the people and was never intended to be garnished by banks or debt collectors.”