All students at Rutgers University must be vaccinated to attend in-person classes on campus beginning next fall.
But what about the state’s other universities? Should they follow suit?
That was one of the questions today for Phil Murphy at his regular briefing.
And the governor is not going to get involved – at least not directly.
He said he was “very impressed” with what officials at Rutgers are doing, but that he’s not going to mandate that other state universities do the same.
This type of “hands-off” approach, which is apropo for a “home rule” state, is similar to how fully opening public schools is being handled. In short, districts can do what they want, although most are at least partially open for in-person instruction.
As for vaccines in general, the governor did say that the state has now administered more than 4 million vaccines That is not 4 million people, because it includes those who have gotten the required two shots, but it’s still an impressive number.
But another number the governor talked about was less encouraging.
He said more than 900,000 people in the state have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began a bit more than a year ago. That’s roughly 10 percent of the population.
Roll that around in your mind for a spell. And think of the next 10 people you’re going to see on the street, while driving, or at the supermarket. One of them would have had the virus. At least, statistically speaking.
Still, thanks perhaps to vaccine progress, the governor loosened restrictions on outdoor gatherings to 200 people. As before, there are no limits for religious and political events. He also increased the indoor capacity limit to 20 percent, which, among other things, would mean more fans at New Jersey Devils’ hockey games.
But there are “limits” to how far Murphy is willing to go. New cases have been increasing of late – the vaccine stats notwithstanding. State officials attribute this to new strains of the virus, the state’s dense population and “pandemic fatigue.”
So the governor threw “cold water” on the idea of fully reopening now, as some critics – think Republicans – want.
“We’re going to continue to be incremental,” Murphy said.