Gov. Phil Murphy has called for an end to divisive attitudes over who deserves to get the vaccine — criticizing media reports and commentary focusing on the fact that smokers are now eligible, as members of a group considered high-risk, while some other groups remain shut out.

“Understanding everyone’s desire to get vaccinated as soon as possible, we understand people are anxious,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

Because New Jersey receives only 100,000 vaccine doses each week, only 100,000 people can get vaccinated in a given week, she said.

Persichilli said the state Department of Health can change the groupings as needed, based on current guidance from the CDC. 

“This is a moment that requires big thinking and bold action,” Murphy said. 

On Jan. 13, Murphy reiterated that the demand for the vaccine currently far outstrips the available supply, and he acknowledged that the addition of the new vaccine groups will add to that demand. 

Persichilli said the state is bracing for a surge that could begin as soon as next week, and continue into February. A moderate scenario could see as many as 4,500 hospital beds filled, while a high scenario could see as many as 6,000 hospital beds filled. 

There is enough PPE available to hospitals, but she cautioned that hospitals would not have enough staffing if the surge were large enough.

The latest numbers

Montclair saw 65 new coronavirus cases over the week from Jan. 12 to Jan. 19, bringing the total number to 1535. The number of deaths remained at 62. 

Between Jan. 12 and Jan. 19, Essex County reported 3,255 new cases and 28 new deaths, bringing the totals to 55,155 cases and 2,223 deaths. 

Between those dates, New Jersey saw 35,191 new cases, bringing the total to 572,306 cases. There were 3,761 new cases on Jan. 19, compared to 3,511 new cases on Jan. 18. 

Another 531 deaths were reported over that one-week period, bringing the total to 18,421 from 17,890. There were 54 deaths reported on Jan. 19, up from 23 new confirmed deaths on Jan. 18. 

Hospital patient counts declined slightly over the week. On the night of Jan. 18, hospitals reported 3,506 patients, including 643 in critical care and 429 on ventilators. On Jan. 11, by comparison, hospitals reported 3,703 patients, including 659 in critical care and 440 on ventilators.