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Our statehouse reporters discuss Governor Phil Murphy's 2021 State of the State address and his message on healthcare. NorthJersey.com

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Gov. Phil Murphy acknowledged the heavy price New Jersey has paid during the coronavirus pandemic in his State of the State speech Tuesday, but gave few specifics about when his promised post-pandemic dawn will break.  

The arrival of "approved, safe and effective" COVID vaccines has brought hope, the governor said as he outlined plans for six mega-sites capable of vaccinating thousands of people each day. But he didn't mention that the supply of vaccines from Operation Warp Speed, the federal program, currently amounts to only a fraction of what the sites are capable of administering. 

More: New Jersey State of the State: The highlights of Gov. Murphy's speech

Murphy assured his listeners of a future in which New Jerseyans will be "able to gather and celebrate with our families and friends. … see all our children back in the schools they love … [and] see our economy recover and flourish." But neither a date nor a season was offered for that return to normalcy. 

New Jersey has attacked the virus head-on, Murphy said, taking a swipe at the Trump administration, "not with a dismissive wave or partisan pandering."

He reiterated his mantra that "public health creates economic health," citing the difficult decisions he had made to balance virus containment and economic recovery. 

COVID: Holiday spike in NJ COVID cases is here, but Murphy says time could be now to lower numbers

And he contrasted Trenton's successful effort to preserve the Affordable Care Act's gains in health insurance coverage with Congressional Republicans' efforts to dismantle President Barack Obama's signature health care law. New state laws created a state-based, online insurance marketplace to replace the federal website, Healthcare.gov, and helped to lower health insurance premiums for some.

He cited the work of first lady Tammy Murphy and the Health Department to reduce New Jersey's stark racial divide when it comes to maternal and infant mortality.

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But when it comes to substance abuse and the epidemic that dominated the last State of the State speech by his predecessor, Gov. Chris Christie — the opioid epidemic — Murphy offered only a single sentence.

"As we're fighting the coronavirus pandemic, we're keeping our focus on fighting the opioid epidemic," he said tersely. It's clear that Murphy's primary commitment — and to a great extent, his reelection prospect — rests on winning the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Lindy Washburn is a senior health care reporter for NorthJersey.com. To keep up-to-date about how changes in the medical world affect the health of you and your family, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: washburn@northjersey.com 

Twitter: @lindywa 

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