New Jersey surpasses 20,000 COVID deaths, focuses vaccines on hard-hit areas

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- New Jersey has surpassed another grim milestone during the coronavirus pandemic, as Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that the state now has 20,004 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.

"That 20,000 confirmed deaths takes your breath away," he said.

The news comes as the state focuses its vaccination efforts on hard hit communities, and also as Murphy enters voluntary quarantine after a family member tested positive.

Murphy does not qualify as an exposed close contact, but he canceled in-person events out of an abundance of caution.

"We are being extra extra careful here, adhering both to CDC guidelines but also taking no chances," he said. "I tested negative a couple hours ago as part of my regular testing regimen. We are not going to go near, they say don't go near the foul line, stay well off of it, and that is what we are doing. Thank you for bearing with us."

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More than a million vaccines have been administered in New Jersey already, but Murphy said the goal is to make sure they're giving equal access to harder hit communities.

Prior to his relative testing positive, Murphy visited a group home and educational center in Somerset County Tuesday.

Outside of the many other vaccination sites, they're making an effort to bring the shots to houses of worship and other community gathering places , many locations that were once testing sites.

Murphy said that the virus has had an outsized impact on minority communities, and they're working to get as many shots as possible to some of these community sites.

"I know appointments remain hard to come by, but please understand that this is because we just don't have the supply we need to satisfy demand," he said. "As our supply, which we receive from the federal government, increases we will be able to open more and more appointments. As we've said many times before here, this is not a matter of capacity. We have purposely built a program that can meet demand. We just need more doses."

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