Coronavirus Update New Jersey
NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey got high-profile reinforcement Friday in its push to encourage more residents to get vaccinated against COVID.
Vice President Kamala Harris was in New Jersey as the Tri-State area prepares for the impending expansion of the vaccine eligibility pool.
She visited the vaccination site at Essex County College in hard hit Newark Friday afternoon, first thanking a line of workers in scrubs and masks registering patients.
"I wanted to come by and thank you all for your work," she said. "You guys are holding it down, and you've been holding it down. So thank you all, it means so much. I know it feels endless, but it's not. There will be an end to this."
Essex County lost 28,000 residents to the novel coronavirus, and than 30% of them -- about 1,000 -- were in Newark.
"The inner cities were hit very, very hard," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said.
Harris watched people receive the vaccine, telling them they were doing the right thing.
"It will save your life, it's free, it's safe," she told one recipient. "It's about you, and it's about everyone around you. This is an expression about love thy neighbor."
She also touted New Jersey's response to the pandemic.
"New Jersey is one of the top 10 states in the country because of vaccines," she said. "The challenge is, this is one of the most densely populated states. So it's not like it's easy to do it."
She arrived Friday morning at Newark Airport and was greeted by Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy and other officials before taking part in a roundtable discussion at Montclair State University to push President Joe Biden's early childhood education plans.
She presided over the roundtable with Governor Murphy, Rep. Mikie Sherrill, and five educators.
In her remarks, Harris talked about "the significance of supporting our children, supporting our parents."
She also praised Murphy, calling him a "true leader," and Sherrill, saying, "I've known of your work in the halls of the United States Congress."
She made a pitch for the child care funding in the Build Better Act.
"Our nation is strongest when everyone is able to participate," she said. "This is fundamentally what the issue is about when it comes to working parents."
The Biden administration is pushing for expanded child care as part of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that is being held up in Congress.
The administration feels more money is needed to help mothers get back to work after the pandemic shut down a lot of child care facilities and they are struggling to reopen. Many have closed for good because workers are hard to find due to issues like low play.
Earlier Friday, Harris stopped in to say hello to the "Tree House" classroom at Ben Samuels Childcare Center.
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