NEW JERSEY -- Gov. Phil Murphy said at his COVID press briefing on Monday that he doesn't expect to loosen any more COVID-19 restrictions because of the recent rise in variant strains of the disease.

On March 19, the state of New Jersey expanded capacity at indoor businesses, such as restaurants and gyms, but the governor said that is unlikely to allow any further increases in capacity while the variants are on the rise. However, he has no plans to roll back restrictions.

"We are back to leading the nation in leading the spread of this virus. There is no magic wand I can wave to stop the spread. Only you all can stop the spread of this virus," Murphy said. "The presence of vaccines is great, and we are among the nation's leaders in getting shots into arms, it does not mean the pandemic is over."

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The governor also announced that New Jersey has administered 3,510,311 doses, but cautioned that "the vaccine does not make you bulletproof; you are still capable of spreading the vaccine to those who are around you who have not yet been vaccinated." He also advised that those who have been vaccinated should still wear a mask or masks. 

"We have gotten more than half a million shots in arms in just one week," Murphy said. "With more than 2.3 million doses administered of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we’re roughly halfway to our initial goal of vaccinating 4.7 million individuals."

"More than 1.2 million of those who live work and study in New Jersey are fully vaccinated... but we are not out of the woods," he added.

Latest New Jersey COVID-19 Numbers

  • 2,608 new positive PCR tests, for a total of 767,583 total PCR tests since the pandemic began
  • 697 new positive antigen tests, raising the state total to 101,454 total positive antigen tests
  • 1,992 patients in New Jersey hospitals with 428 patients in ICUs, and 217 ventilators in use
  • 190 live patients discharged, and 207 COVID-positive patients admitted 
  • 28 new confirmed COVID deaths, bringing New Jersey's cumulative total of confirmed deaths to 21,666.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli expressed concern about the presence of 400 reports of COVID variants in the state: 389 UK variant (B.1.1.7) cases, 3 Brazilian variant (P.1) cases, 1 South African variant (B.1.351) case and 7 total of 2 California variants (B.1.427, B.1.429).