Gov. Murphy resistant to speeding up timeline to end COVID-19 school mask mandates
Gov. Phil Murphy is resisting calls to move up the end of the school mask mandate, despite a drop in cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey.
“We’re getting there, there’s just no question about it,” Murphy said in his briefing on Wednesday.
The school mask mandate will end on March 7. The governor continues to express optimism in the fight against the virus.
“There is – I’d say – overwhelming developing scientific and medical consensus that we have a much better sense of where this is going,” Murphy said.
But Murphy still balks at the idea of speeding up the removal of other COVID-19 restrictions.
“We just think we’re proceeding at the pace this stuff merits. We are going from that pandemic to endemic,” he said.
The governor would not give specifics on when he could lift the other requirements, like masking inside state buildings or the end of vaccine mandates.
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“We’re still fighting this thing. It’s dramatically better,” Murphy said.
He would also not commit to supporting a bipartisan legislative effort to investigate the spread of the virus in nursing homes, saying that his administration will do a full action report later.
“We take this stuff deadly seriously and I promise you, complete mirrors will be held up on this,” the governor said.
The state Department of Health is still working on guidance for school districts. Individual school districts will be allowed to continue mandating masks, causing strong reactions from some parents who want to see masks gone completely.
“I’m a parent myself and their opinion matters. But whether we lift the mask mandate or now, this has been politicized for reasons that are at odds with public health,” Murphy said.
Next week’s COVID briefing will be held on Wednesday since Monday is the President’s Day holiday.