Gov. Murphy reinstates public health emergency due to Omicron; school mask mandate stays in place

Gov. Phil Murphy announced he has reinstated a public health emergency to help the state respond to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The declaration allows state agencies and departments to use state resources to assist the state’s health care system and communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reinstates the existing public health emergency that was set to expire by 11:59 p.m.
This means that the school mask mandate will remain in place.
“COVID-19 remains a significant threat to our state and we must commit every resource available to beating back the weave caused by the Omicron variant,” Murphy said in a statement. “While we hope to return to a state of normalcy as soon as possible, the step I am taking today is a commonsense measure that will protect the safety and well-being of all New Jersey residents while allowing the government to respond to the continuing threat that COVID-19 poses to our daily lives.”
It has been seven months since the governor last declared a public health emergency. He had asked the state Legislature to extend his emergency powers for 90 more days. But outgoing state Senate President Steve Sweeney denied that request on Monday.
The governor has the option to renew the emergency after 30 days. This is the first time in seven months that he has declared a public health emergency.
New Jersey health officials reported more than 21,000 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, about 200 fewer than were reported on Monday. More than 6,000 COVID-19 patients are being treated in the state’s hospitals. That number is contributing to a new national record.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 145,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 nationwide. The previous record was set in January 2021 during a winter surge of about 142,000 patients. The majority of those who are hospitalized are unvaccinated.