New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called out a group of anti-vaxxers while speaking at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Murphy was in Union City, New Jersey, to sign legislation that will provide housing eviction prevention and utility assistance for renters who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Before signing it, Murphy spoke to a crowd about the state’s ongoing fight against COVID.
“Please get vaccinated if you’re not vaccinated,” Murphy said. “Please get vaccinated, period.”
Murphy then pointed at and addressed a group of protesters in the background who were carrying signs which read "No Forced Injections" and "Forced Medical Procedures Are Crimes Against Humanity,” according to NJ.com.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
"These folks back there have lost their minds,” Murphy said. “You've lost your minds! You are the ultimate knuckleheads and because of what you are saying and standing for, people are losing their life! People are losing their life and you have to know that! Look in the mirror! Look in the mirror!"
The incident occurred two days after Murphy mandated that workers at New Jersey’s state-run and some private health care facilities and high-risk, congregate living centers must get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo regular testing for the virus.
Murphy, a Democrat running for reelection this year, said the change would likely affect “many thousands” of workers, but couldn't specify how many.
The requirement comes as new cases, particularly involving the contagious delta variant, are climbing in the state and elsewhere in the country.
Murphy's order affects about a dozen state-run facilities, including the three Veterans Affairs homes, state correctional facilities and those run by the Juvenile Justice Commission.
The private facilities affected include long-term care facilities like nursing homes, along with county jails, acute care hospitals and licensed behavioral health centers.
“We are taking this step today because it has been proven time and time again that vaccines save lives and are our way out of this pandemic," Murphy said Monday.
New Jersey's seven-day rolling average of new cases has risen over the past two weeks from nearly 409 on July 17 to 938 on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Despite being fully vaccinated, someone can still become infected with the coronavirus, but the disease's effects are severely blunted. Vaccinated individuals who acquire a so-called "breakthrough infection" are very unlikely to require hospitalization or die. That's why public health officials worldwide stress the importance of vaccination. (If you still need to be vaccinated, here's a tool to find the closest vaccination provider to your home.)