NEWARK, NJ – When Governor Phil Murphy announced the launch of the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s vaccination facility in Newark last week, the original plan was to use 6,000 doses per day.
On the opening day, the site passed that mark with nearly 6,200 doses administered.
“They’ll pound [doses] gone, ”Murphy said during a press conference outside the facility. “This thing is the guerrilla.”
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The NJIT Naimoli Center location on Lock Street works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is currently the largest vaccination center in the state.
With hundreds of residents wrapped around the block waiting to get their vaccine on Wednesday, the center arrives in the city of Newark at a crucial time as it continues to battle some of the most positive COVID cases and deaths in the state .
As of March 31, Essex County officials reported that 34,613 positive cases and 910 deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed in Newark.
Given the recent surge in cases and deaths across the state, as well as the spread of new variants of COVID, the governor noted that mega-vaccination sites like Newark’s could help combat these numbers. It could eventually create a way for the state to reopen.
“I’m not happy, but we kind of expected it,” he said. “The variants are in our condition. You are in the densest region of America … We watch you like a hawk. This is one of the reasons we are very methodical in reopening the state. “
On Tuesday, the governor changed the threshold for venues that are to be considered “large venues” and lowered the range to 2,500 to 5,000 people effective April 2.
He also increased the indoor seating capacity in these venues to 20% and the outdoor seating capacity in the same venues to 30%. The general outdoor meeting limit has been increased to 200 and the general indoor meeting limit remains at 25.
Although the introduction of a mega-location could be seen as a positive for urban cities like Newark to reach the massive population, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka stated that the hurdle of accessibility for residents has yet to be overcome.
“These mega-centers do not necessarily work in our community as they do in other people’s communities,” said the mayor. “Getting access to smaller places like schools, churches and other things that we did – I think that was more effective.”
Efforts that city officials have made to improve vaccine accessibility for residents have included the introduction of mobile pop-up clinics, the recent launch of an equitable vaccine initiative led by community leaders, expanding sites for local educators, and more partnering with local religious leaders to promote the safety of the vaccine.
With Newark’s newly opened mega-site slated to introduce thousands of vaccines a day, Baraka is committed to ensuring that residents get the resources they need to get the vaccine, be it at the NJIT or in their backyard.
“We are grateful that we are so big [site] Here now, and we work every day to get our people here, ”he said. “This is extremely helpful because there are 6,000 people a day … we just have to work extra hard to get our people here, whether we have to bring them here, take a taxi or drive them here.”