TRENTON, NJ – For two years, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has maintained his decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic were based on science and guidance for the Centers for Disease Control. Now, as the governor is set to expire his statewide school mask mandate on March 7th, despite the CDC recommending states to continue enforcing school mask mandate, Murphy said this time, it’s different.
This week, President Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC all unanimously agreed that students should remain masked up, because of science. In New Jersey, Murphy said his decision to unmask children is also based on science.
The governor has been accused of using the mask mandate as a political tool to shield vulnerable Democrats in Congress in the 2022 midterm elections that could see both the House of Representatives and the Senate fall into a Republican majority.
Murphy insists his decision was purely science-based.
Our numbers are- are improving and I would use the word dramatically, rate of transmission, positivity rate, hospitalizations, cases, in-school transmissions, all going in a dramatically good direction,” Murphy said in a CBS interview. “The- the- challenge is this- this spike, this- this variant has spiked straight up, and it’s now coming straight down. New Jersey, New York, got hit early in this wave, as we have in all of the waves.”
Murphy has also allowed local school districts to continue to enforce mask mandates after the March 7th expiration of the state’s universal mask mandate, leading to more cries of political motivation.
“The fact of the matter is our experience is very different right now from the average American state’s experience. So, the CDC, which we have been adherent to from the get-go, and we think they’re doing a terrific job, they’ve just got a much more complex reality,” Murphy said. “The- the science and the data and the facts on the ground in New Jersey have allowed us to take this step….and not political science.”
When asked why he chose a March 7th deadline, Murphy said his gut told him so, not science.
“My gut tells me, particularly as we get into warmer weather in the spring and assuming the virus continues to go in the right direction, you’ll have the overwhelming amount of districts following suit and lifting the mandate,” Murphy said.