TOMS RIVER, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has a hard decision to make in the very near future. The governor, who says he follows the science and the CDC guidance when it comes to actions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic is finding himself at odds with the CDC and the science guidance it is providing.
First, Murphy says it’s up to the local school districts to decide whether or not to require face masks in September for students and faculty. The CDC on Tuesday advised that everyone in K-12 public schools, including students, teachers, staff and visitors should wear face masks. Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear face masks in school, the CDC said.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky also advised that any resident living in a county that is identified by the CDC with a ‘substantial’ rate of transmission should also wear face masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
According to the latest CDC data Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Middlesex, Ocean and Union Counties would be required to reinstate indoor mask mandates, according to the CDC guidance.
Phil Murphy this week insisted that he does not want to return to a mask mandate, even though he now has the authority to enforce it, without issuing an executive order. The rate of transmission statewide in New Jersey on Monday was 1.44, .44 higher than the threshold that by law, reinstates his executive pandemic level powers. On Tuesday, the rate climbed to 1.5.
Murphy is facing even more pressure from voters. Many do not want to see the state revert back to a mask mandate and if forced to do so, it could hurt Murphy in the November election against Jack Ciattarelli.
For now, Murphy and New Jersey are still in a ‘wait and see’ holding pattern, but Murphy said he will not hesitate to reinstate the mask mandate should the numbers in the state begin to deteriorate further as the highly contagious delta variant is now sweeping through the unvaccinated population.