DiVincenzo calls on federal legislators for more COVID-19 vaccines

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — On Tuesday, March 23, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. called upon members of Essex County’s federal delegation to urge President Biden to allocate more COVID-19 vaccine doses to Essex County. The letter was sent to U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez; U.S. Reps. Donald Payne Jr., Mikie Sherrill, Albio Sires and Tom Malinowski; along with Gov. Phil Murphy.

“Today I attended a press conference promoting a local initiative to make vaccines available in black and brown communities and other hard to reach communities. We need as many organizations as possible working with government to get our residents vaccinated. But what we really need the most is more vaccines,” DiVincenzo said in a press release.

In his letter to the officials, DiVincenzo wrote: “We have proven our vaccination initiatives to be efficient and effective, yet our weekly allotment has remained at 12,000 doses. If we received more doses, we could put shots in even more arms. I believe our sites are grossly underutilized. We have the capacity to be vaccinating between 25,000 and 30,000 people per week — if only we had more doses.

“If New Jersey received a larger allocation from the federal government, then more could be earmarked for Essex County,” he continued.

Essex County has created several initiatives to efficiently administer vaccines. They include: opening five vaccination centers that are currently administering 12,000 vaccines per week; busing 700 senior citizens from Newark, Orange, East Orange, Irvington, Bloomfield and Belleville to the vaccination centers each week; hosting mobile vaccination sites in churches, senior buildings and community centers in Newark, Orange, East Orange and Irvington; hosting pop-up vaccination sites in homeless shelters, boarding homes and social service agencies to provide vaccinations to homeless residents, special needs residents and domestic violence victims; scheduling special vaccination appointment times for teachers and support staff from public, private, parochial and charter schools; and partnering with mayors and local health officials to identify and vaccinate homebound residents.

“I understand there are not enough doses on a national level to meet the demand. But I am asking you to lobby President Biden to increase the number of doses to New Jersey so Essex County can get its fair share,” DiVincenzo wrote in the letter. “Essex is the hardest hit county in the state when it comes to the number of COVID-related deaths and cases. As of March 23, the 2,480 COVID deaths makes up about 12 percent of state COVID deaths and the 73,932 cases makes up about 9 percent of the state’s total. We continually hear from the president that more doses will be available, yet we have not seen this in Essex County.”