Gov. Murphy ‘Strongly’ Recommends, But Doesn’t Mandate Mask-Wearing Indoors

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

TRENTON, N.J. — On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy released a joint statement with Department of Health commissioner Judy Persichilli regarding the CDC’s updated mask guidance that was released Tuesday.

Gov. Murphy and Commissioner Persichilli’s statement “strongly” recommends that all individuals, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status, resume wearing masks indoors “when there is increased risk” of spreading COVID-19.

“Our metrics are trending in the wrong direction, and new data suggests the Delta variant is more transmissible even among vaccinated individuals, which is why we are making this strong recommendation,” the statement reads. “Fortunately, our numbers are a fraction of those in many other states, most of which have significantly lower vaccination rates. Should our numbers reach those levels, we reserve the right to take more drastic action, including a statewide mask mandate.”

According to the CDC’s data of county-by-county COVID-19 transmission, three South Jersey counties — Burlington, Atlantic, and Ocean — currently have a “substantial” level of community transmission. Cumberland County’s transmission level is considered “low,” and Camden, Gloucester, Cape May, and Salem counties all have a “moderate” level of COVID-19 transmission at this time.

The CDC’s updated guidance only applies to places where the level of COVID-19 transmission is considered “substantial” or “high.” Monmouth County is the only part of New Jersey that has a “high” transmission level at this time.

“We have crushed this virus repeatedly like no other state in the nation, and we are proud to boast among the country’s highest vaccination rates. But at this point, given where our metrics are now, we feel the best course of action is to strongly encourage every New Jerseyan, and every visitor to our state, to take personal responsibility and mask up indoors when prudent,” the statement continued. “And we equally encourage every unvaccinated resident or visitor to get vaccinated. The vaccines are proven safe and highly effective, and are the surest way we can end this pandemic.”

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get infected with or be able to spread COVID-19. However, it drastically lowers your chances of becoming seriously ill or dying because of the virus.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.