As COVID numbers drop, is Gov. Murphy ready to end all mandates?
It is only three weeks until New Jersey school children can stop wearing face masks in many districts around the state. But with what Gov. Phil Murphy calls a dramatic improvement in COVID-19 numbers, is he ready to put an end to all mandates?
“I think we’re getting from pandemic to endemic as I stand here,” Murphy said on Monday.
COVID numbers are falling in the state following a surge of the Omicron variant in December and January.
“The numbers continue to get better and better,” Murphy said.
The governor made the comments at an event regarding prescription drug affordability that he held in Willingboro.
Murphy said the remaining COVID restrictions will be lifted sooner rather than later.
RELATED: Gov. Murphy defends masking in schools decision on ‘Face the Nation’ as COVID-19 slows in NJ
“Assuming the data and the trends continue to go in the direction they’ve been going in,” he said.
The New York Times reported last week that following Murphy’s narrower-than-expected election win in November, the governor's pollsters commissioned focus groups showing that mandates like the school mask mandate were increasingly unpopular.
Murphy confirmed that he saw the polling data, but said, “I didn't need to see focus group data or read a poll to tell you that people are tired. What's that phrase? ‘Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.’”
He said the polling data had no impact on his decision announced last week to end the school mask mandate. That mandate will end on March 7.
“People have had it. Who can blame them? So have I, OK? That’s a fact. You can’t make a decision like the one we’re talking about based on that,” Murphy said. “I think we’ve done it the right way. We’re going to lift the mandate responsibly because the data says we can.”
The timeline for removing mandates like vaccination and masking in state buildings remains unclear.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul ended her state's mask or vaccine requirement for businesses last week.