Gov. Phil Murphy has extended the state’s public health emergency declaration for a 12th time, an action that will carry the state into a full year under the order.
The declaration gives the Department of Health expanded powers to respond to the coronavirus and roll out the vaccine, Murphy said. More than 1 million people have gotten the first shot of the two-dose vaccine that was first administered in New Jersey in mid-December.
Since then more than 410,000 people have been fully vaccinated against the virus, which has claimed more than 20,000 lives in the state. Murphy’s goal is to vaccinate 4.7 million New Jerseyans within six months.
“Today’s action means we can continue our ongoing COVID-19 mitigation efforts while vaccinating New Jersey residents as quickly and as safely as possible,” Murphy said.
Extending the public health emergency also means Murphy’s prior executive orders, and emergency responses undertaken by state agencies, remain in effect.
Public health emergency declarations expire in 30 days unless they are renewed by the governor. New Jersey’s current emergency status was declared on March 9, 2020.
The public health emergency is authorized by the Emergency Health Powers Act, a 2005 law that gives the health commissioner broad powers to do such things as enforce quarantines, mandate vaccinations and collect lists of health care workers who could volunteer in an emergency.