For the time being, it sounds like other Hudson County municipalities will largely not be following Hoboken’s lead on COVID-19 vaccinate mandates, with many opting to wait for more guidance from the state and federal authorities.
Officials from Bayonne, Guttenberg, Jersey City, Kearny, Union City, and North Bergen, all said today that they had no plans to immediately implement a policy where municipal employees would have to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
“We are in the midst of analyzing the latest data from state and federal agencies. After completing the analysis, the City Administration will make decisions about the appropriate course of action,” said Bayonne spokesman Joe Ryan.
“I think requiring a mandate for something that’s under emergency use authorization that creates legal exposure that we don’t want to take or assume,” noted Kearny Mayor Al Santos, pointing out that the FDA will likely grant full approval of the three vaccines in the next couple months.
In Jersey City, Ward E Councilman James Solomon says both the city and board of education should be proactive here and follow the science.
“Vaccination remains our number one tool to combat this pandemic. Science shows that the vaccines are safe and highly effective at reducing the spread and severity of cases caused by the Delta Variant,” he said in a statement this afternoon.
“Jersey City should follow the example set by President Biden and Mayor Bhalla to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to get our kids back in classrooms safely this fall, and that the public at large is protected from this new wave of disease. We can’t have a repeat of last school year. We can’t wait until this new wave is upon us to react, we have to be proactive.”
However, city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said that isn’t in the cards since the city is planning to wait for Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to implement new guidelines statewide.
“Jersey City has maintained a policy throughout the pandemic that all unvaccinated staff are required to wear a face mask. That policy continues,” she began.
“We believe, and have seen, that creating positive peer pressure alone has been a motivator for some staff to get vaccinated. As of now, we are not implementing mandates until the governor directs this across the state.”
Additionally, Jersey City Board of Education President Mussab Ali says that the school district is committed to reopening safely next month.
“We are committed to working on every strategy possible to ensure a safe and successful school reopening in September. The scientific data is clear – vaccines work. We will work within the federal and state guidelines to do whatever possible to incentivize individuals to get vaccinated.”
At press conference in Trenton today, Murphy said that employees in certain healthcare and other high-risk settings, such as hospitals and jails, must be fully vaccinated by September 7th or get tested once or twice weekly.
“Our mandate is the floor. If we do not see significant increases in vaccination rates among the employees in these settings, we are ready and willing to require all staff to be vaccinated as a condition of their employment,” the governor tweeted.
In contrast, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner revealed that the township is considering implementing a mandate that would mirror the one in neighboring Hoboken, though a timetable is not in place yet.
“We’re definitely considering it and right now we’re just working on the council’s support. Next month is expected to be a tough month for unvaccinated people with this Delta variant,” Turner stated.
“We want to make sure the work force stays safe and don’t forget, a lot of them come into contact with the general public.”
Furthermore, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said they’re going to “do something soon,” with expectations of having county offices close to fully staffed after Labor Day.
“The Hoboken plan, something along those lines, is something I think we’re heading towards.”
Officials from Secaucus, East Newark, Harrison, and West New York did not immediately return inquiries seeking comment on Monday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.