More than 20,000 New Jersey residents have now died from COVID-19.
“Let that sink in,” Gov. Phil Murphy said today.
He called the number “unfathomable,” noting that it exceeds the population of most New Jersey towns.
With that in mind, the governor said that beginning on Thursday, those 65 and older, and those 16 to 64 with serious medical conditions, will be eligible to get the vaccine.
An estimated 264,000 state residents have been vaccinated so far, but with the expansion of eligibility, that number is expected to rise quickly.
Murphy made the vaccine announcement in a wide-ranging briefing that included paying homage to state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who announced her retirement today, weekend security concerns and even an observation that Mike Pompeo has been the worst U.S. Secretary of State in the country’s history.
The governor, a former ambassador to Germany, actually began his briefing heralding the nomination of career diplomat, William Burns, to run the CIA. Murphy said he dealt with Burns during his ambassadorship and that he was impressed with his professionalism.
Then, he got around to Pompeo.
Showing obvious contempt, the governor said Pompeo’s conduct in politicizing the State Department has been “despicable.” Murphy faulted Pompeo for thinking about politics first and foremost dating back to his comments about Benghazi while a congressman .
The governor often criticizes the president and his acolytes, but his verbiage today seemed unusually harsh.
Looking ahead to threatened protests this weekend in Trenton from groups protesting Donald Trump’s defeat, Murphy again asked people to stay home.
“This is a bad week to be out there,” the governor said.
Generally speaking, Murphy and Pat Callahan, the head of the State Police, said the state is preparing “for the worst.” Such comments are to be expected.
They also said the state is in constant contact with the FBI and that the general alert notwithstanding, there is no “credible” threat against the state capitol.
Still, the governor said law enforcement officials will have no patience for anyone showing up anywhere in the state to protest violently.
“Please don’t test us,” he warned.