NJ governor blames Walgreens, federal government for sluggish Covid vaccine rollout

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) blamed Walgreens and the federal government for the Garden State’s sluggish vaccine rollout during a Wednesday evening interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.”

“The big reason is the federal program with CVS and Walgreens,” Murphy said. “They basically amassed these doses, they schedule visits to long-term care nursing homes, extended living, and they’re punching under their weight, particularly Walgreens, and that’s where most of the yet to be used doses are.”

Murphy suggested to host Shepard Smith that Walgreens “put more bodies on the case” in order to solve the rollout problem. 

On Tuesday, Murphy said that New Jersey was effectively equipped to dole out the vaccine, but that all the providers were missing “are the vaccine doses.” New Jersey has a population of approximately 8.882 million people, and has distributed 898,550 vaccines, while only administering 432,220 of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Murphy pointed to the Covid vaccine doses under state control and said that they are getting into people’s arms more efficiently.

“You can’t find many doses in hospitals or other distribution points that we control directly, that are going unused,” Murphy said. “We’re getting shots into arms with all of the areas that we can control.”

Smith pushed back with Murphy and highlighted that “the people are losing out” when it comes to the slow vaccine rollout. More than 123,000 Americans are currently hospitalized and an average of 3,000 people dying every day, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. The pandemic has killed more than 400,000 people since the pandemic began early last year. Murphy pointed at the federal government. 

“There’s no question we have an enormous supply/demand imbalance, that begins, with all due respect, with the federal government, at least up until today, having dropped the ball – over promising and under delivering,” Murphy said. “So, if Walgreens bats 1,000, if CVS bats 1,000 and we continue as a state to do what we’re doing, which is getting vaccines into people’s arms, we still have been let down by the Feds.”

Murphy requested up to $20 billion in federal aid to help with Covid deficits. President Joe Biden said on Friday that he would use the Defense Production Act to boost vaccine supplies during his first month in office.

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