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Warren County, NJ commissioners formally object to governor’s new public health mandate | Regional

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The Warren County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday night passed a resolution opposing Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent declaration of a new public health emergency and his imposition of a vaccine mandate for health care workers and correctional officers.

Passed unanimously, the resolution notes that Murphy imposed discipline on employees, including termination, for failing to comply with his mandates, regardless of personal preference. The board’s resolution states that health decisions should be managed by county and local governments, which can choose options best suited to address local conditions.

Murphy signed an executive order last month requiring all workers in health care settings and high-risk congregate living facilities, including correctional facilities, to be up to date on vaccinations.

The board’s resolution also urges the state Legislature to repeal Murphy’s public health emergency “to restore the constitutional balance of power guaranteed by the United States and New Jersey Constitution,” so Warren County can protect its employees and continue to serve its residents. Copies of the resolution will be sent to the governor, the state legislature, boards of commissioners in New Jersey’s other 20 counties, and to the governing bodies in all municipalities in Warren County.

Commissioner James Kern III said by passing the resolution, the county is sending a message and adding to the pressure building in the state legislature to end the governor’s mandate.

Commissioner Jason Sarnoski agreed, saying it is time “to get back our lives.”

In a related matter, the board, at Kern’s request, voted to join a lawsuit filed by the New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association that seeks a restraining order to stop Murphy’s vaccine mandate for corrections officers.

Kern once again expressed his concerns that the mandate may affect operations at the county correctional center.

Murphy’s order requires boosters and removes the testing option many had been relying on. Unvaccinated correctional officers have until March 30 to finish their first round of shots, and then must receive a booster shot after that.

Vaccinated correctional officers due for a booster are required to get it.

Kern said the prison had 69 correctional officers. Of them 37 have two shots, and 18 more have received a booster. It takes a minimum of 48 officers to run the facility.

Warren County’s interests align with the police union, Kern said, adding that there is a concern about not having enough personnel to manage the prison. Joining the lawsuit also would also represent a show of good faith to taxpayers and the county’s employees, he said.

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