(The Center Square) – Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli are recommending all New Jerseyans, regardless of their vaccination status, wear masks when indoors.
Despite saying New Jersey has “crushed this virus repeatedly like no other state in the nation,” Murphy and Persichilli suggested New Jerseyans and visitors to the state “take personal responsibility” and wear a mask inside. The two made the recommendation following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
They suggested mask-wearing in crowded indoor settings, such as those with close contact with people who may not be fully vaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown. They also recommended wearing masks when around people who are immunocompromised or at increased risk.
“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,” Murphy and Persichilli said in a joint statement.
“Fortunately, our numbers are a fraction of those in many other states, most of which have significantly lower vaccination rates,” they added. “Should our numbers reach those levels, we reserve the right to take more drastic action, including a statewide mask mandate.”
The state Republican Party took umbrage at possibility of a return to a statewide mask mandate.
“How dare you threaten the people of NJ who did what you wanted them to do,” the party wrote in Twitter. “No mask mandate. Period, full stop. We didn’t suffer under your lockdowns for a year, watch 1/3 small biz’s close for good, &have millions of us get vaccinated only for you to threaten to take us backward.”
Murphy also urged residents to become vaccinated, saying the vaccine is “proven safe and highly effective” and “the surest way we can end this pandemic.”
According to state numbers, more than 10.4 million vaccinations were reported by sites in New Jersey. More than 5.1 million people have been fully vaccinated at New Jersey sites, but the numbers do not include residents who may have received the vaccination in another state.