Despite New CDC Guidance, New Jersey to Keep Indoor Mask Mandate in Place

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

TRENTON, N.J. — On Friday afternoon, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy offered his first response to the CDC’s updated guidance regarding mask-wearing and social distancing in the United States. Despite the fact that the CDC said fully vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear their masks in most indoor settings, Gov. Murphy isn’t rescinding New Jersey’s mask mandate yet.

With the exception of travel settings like planes, trains, and buses along with higher-risk locations like hospitals, prisons, and nursing homes, fully vaccinated Americans are safe without masks and social distancing in public settings, according to the CDC’s updated guidance. The CDC defines a person as “fully vaccinated” two weeks after they received their second Pfizer or Moderna dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson model, of course.

“We will keep our indoor mask mandate in place in public settings as we continue to work toward our vaccination goals. To be clear, we’re making incredible progress, but we’re not there yet,” Gov. Murphy said on Twitter last Friday. “One thing is abundantly clear: fully vaccinated people are much safer to engage in everyday life than unvaccinated people. This is even more reason for every eligible New Jerseyan to make the decision to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Gov. Murphy said that, although New Jersey won’t lift the indoor mask mandate immediately, he expects to be able to lift it soon thanks to the state’s progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19. As of Monday morning, New Jersey had administered more than 8,000,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. More than 3.7 million New Jerseyans have received both doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine models — or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson model. Case numbers are also drastically down in New Jersey, which can currently boast the United States’ second-best 14-day decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The governor also said that New Jersey agrees with the CDC regarding its stance on mask-wearing at small private gatherings. The CDC said that vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear masks at smaller gatherings with their families in their private homes, and New Jersey also agrees with the CDC’s stance about vaccinated individuals not needing masks outdoors.

“We’ll still strongly urge unvaccinated people to wear [masks] in crowded settings if they can’t social distance, and businesses do still have the right to insist on stricter mask policies,” Gov. Murphy added on Twitter.

Pennsylvania began following the CDC’s updated guidance almost immediately after it was announced last Thursday. This is perceived as a more laissez-faire approach to managing the pandemic. Without any established way to check if individuals are vaccinated such as the controversial idea of vaccine passports, theses states will mostly rely on the honor system and trust that individuals won’t lie about their vaccination status.

States that are choosing this laissez-faire approach to managing the pandemic are relying on Americans to be truthful about their vaccination status. However, some academics who work in psychology and human behavior believe that some will lie about their COVID-19 vaccination status.

As the United States’ fight against COVID-19 nears its end, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the fastest way you can reach that end and get your life back to normal is simple: getting vaccinated.

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