The order eliminates the weekly testing option for employees in “high-risk congregate settings” and mandates vaccination. Congregate settings include county correctional facilities and those employees will have until February 16th to get their first dose and March 30th to complete the vaccination process.
“Since declaring his most recent executive order, Governor Murphy and his administration have remained silent on implementation. Perhaps it is because they know that it is unrealistic and could result in the closure of correctional facilities across New Jersey. Further he has decided to apply the order in a discriminatory manner by only mandating the vaccine for officers and not inmates,” Kern said.
The Warren County Correctional Facility, which also provides services to Hunterdon County, has a vaccination rate of 41% for correctional police officers and only 20% for current inmates. The Warren County Health Department has offered vaccine information sessions to employees as well provide opportunities to receive the shot.
“I say to the Governor: what is the plan? Should the Supreme Court uphold this order, what happens to the majority of our officers who have remained unvaccinated? For the past 20 months Warren County has operated our facility effectively. This includes before the development and distribution of vaccines. With strong leadership at our facility, they have been able to implement schedules to reduce exposure, maintain adequate staffing with hybrid shifts, and adhere to appropriate testing protocols. Perhaps the Governor should follow his own advice from his Meet the Press appearance and accept that we will need to, ‘learn how to live with this‘,” Kern said.
The New Jersey Supreme Court is set to hear the challenge from the New Jersey State PBA on February 7 at 2:00 p.m.
“Like many, we will be awaiting the outcome of this hearing but our county employees can be assured that we will continue to fight against these overreaching executive orders,” Kern said.