WARREN COUNTY, NJ – A Warren County official released a statement following a decision by New Jersey appeals courts to rule in favor of Governor Phil Murphy’s vaccination mandate.

Courts ruled on Friday in favor of Executive Order 283, which eliminates weekly testing options for employees in “high-risk gathering places” and mandates vaccinations instead. These collective facilities include county correctional facilities.

Under the decision, employees at correctional facilities in the county will have until February 16 to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and March 30 to complete the vaccination process.

Warren County Commissioner James Kern III said he was disappointed with the court’s decision.

“As I have said in the past, Warren County has effectively managed our facility for the past 20 months, including prior to the creation and distribution of the vaccine. This order selectively mandates the vaccine for our correctional police officers and is silent on inmates. What is most remarkable is that the Governor is releasing inmates from prison at this exact time rather than forcing them to get the vaccine like he did for prison staff.

Warren County Correctional Facility, which also provides services to Hunterdon County, has a vaccination rate of 41% for correctional police officers and just 20% for current inmates. The Warren County Health Department offered vaccine information sessions to employees and also gave them the opportunity to get vaccinated. At the February 8 Warren County meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to join the Police Benevolent Association litigation if an appeal is filed.

“We will assess this situation over the next few days and proceed accordingly if the PBA pursues further litigation,” Kern said.