Gov. Murphy: New Jersey Remains in ‘Very Good Shape’ Regarding COVID-19, But Will Reinstate Mask Mandate ‘If We Have To’

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

Photo: CNBC

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday morning to provide an update on the state’s fight against COVID-19 and, particularly, the Delta variant’s impact on the state.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country due to the Delta variant, which is more contagious than other variants of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report yesterday stating that the Delta variant is now responsible for 83% of all sequenced COVID-19 cases in the United States. Despite the recent uptick, case numbers are far from their peaks nationwide from earlier this year.

Top government officials have made it clear that unvaccinated community members are far more likely to contract COVID-19 and continue the spread of the virus. President Joe Biden even said “the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated” — a sentiment Gov. Murphy echoed during his CNBC appearance.

“We’ve got probably 350 folks in our hospital. We keep them in our prayers, but I venture to say they’re all unvaccinated,” he said. “So I would just continue to plead with people to get vaccinated. The variants are all over our state. I would beg people to get vaccinated.”

As the Governor noted during his “Squawk Box” interview, getting the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t contract the virus. However, the vaccine models are incredibly effective in preventing serious illness and death as a result of COVID-19. As of Monday, more than 159,000,000 Americans had been fully vaccinated against the pandemic. Of those, 5,189 people were hospitalized, and 1,063 died due to the virus.

Only 0.0032% of fully vaccinated Americans have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 0.0006% of fully vaccinated Americans have been killed by the virus. Although none of the existing COVID-19 vaccine models have been given full CDC authorization, they’ve led to a drastic decrease in case numbers nationwide and the removal of COVID-19-related safety restrictions.

Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populated individual county, recently reinstated its mask mandate as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Murphy was asked about this action during his CNBC appearance, and he reiterated his desire not to put COVID-19-related restrictions back in place.

“For the time being, I hope we don’t have to do that,” he said. “If we have to, we will.”

New Jersey lifted its COVID-19 safety precautions, including the indoor and outdoor mask mandate, in June. The state did so as it closed in on reaching its goal of fully inoculating 70% of the adult population, or 4.7 million people. Though they’ve worsened slightly in recent weeks due to the Delta variant, New Jersey’s COVID-19 metrics are, in Gov. Murphy’s estimation, still in a good place.

“The overall metrics — if you look at hospitalizations, positivity rates, folks who are severely sick in the ICU, rate of transmission, etc. — while it may not be where it was a few weeks ago, these are still largely in very good shape,” he said. “We continue to vaccinate several thousand people, if not more, a day with their first vaccine.”

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, New Jersey reported 655 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The state was reporting between 100 and 200 cases for much of June and early July, but the Delta variant has caused a slight uptick in new cases in the Garden State. More than 5,000,000 people are now fully inoculated throughout the state, and 5,631,865 New Jerseyans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine models.

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