Study gives New Jersey a failing grade for pandemic response

New Jersey ranked last for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new analysis from the Committee To Unleash Prosperity.

The group gave the Garden State an F-minus for its pandemic performance, tying New York and the District of Columbia.

“Shutting down their economies and schools was by far the biggest mistake governors and state officials made during COVID, particularly in blue states,” CUP co-founder Stephen Moore said in an announcement. “We hope the results of this study will persuade governors not to close schools and businesses the next time we have a new virus variant.”

Meanwhile, Monday was the deadline for health care workers to comply with Gov. Phil Murphy’s vaccination mandate.

Murphy, a Democrat, previously issued an executive order to require health care workers to be fully vaccinated and boosted by April 11. Workers in high-risk congregate settings, including corrections officers, have until May 11 to comply.

Assemblywomen Marilyn Piperno, R-Monmouth, and Kim Eulner, R-Monmouth, asked Murphy to drop the executive order in light of potential staffing shortages. They are sponsoring A-2585 to prohibit discrimination against frontline workers who have declined the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

At the end of February, Assembly Republicans tried to force a vote on the bill, but Democrats overruled.

“As New Jersey shifts from pandemic to endemic, it simply does not make sense to enforce stringent vaccine requirements that will exacerbate staffing shortages and harm essential employees,” Piperno said.

“Murphy has rolled back COVID-19 mitigation measures for government employees, schools, and students, and it has not contributed to poorer health outcomes,” Piperno added. “But yet, he is fully willing to fire frontline workers for refusing a booster shot. His decision unfairly threatens the livelihoods of workers who showed up when everyone else stayed home.”

Murphy previously lifted statewide school mask requirements and ended the mask mandate for executive branch buildings. The New Jersey Statehouse also ceased temperature screenings, mask requirements for employees and visitors and COVID-19 vaccination status and test checks.

“We have asked so much of each and every New Jerseyan for the past two years. You have overwhelmingly delivered and then some,” Murphy said during a briefing last month. “We’re at this point only because of your dedicated work to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities. I know you are exhausted both mentally and physically and ready to return to normal.

“Let there be no doubt, so are we,” the governor added. “We persevered and fought and persevered and fought some more. That’s why we’re at this point today. With all we have done to ensure the preparedness of our health-care system and with the advent of both the vaccines and treatments, we are ready to move forward and not to live our lives in fear.”

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