The Great Debate: Which areas of New Jersey are wearing or not wearing masks?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear masks in indoor public places. Those who are vaccinated are urged to wear masks if they are in areas of high transmission.
But whether or not people follow these guidelines may depend on where one lives in New Jersey.
News 12’s Brian Donohue visited a mall in Bergen County this week, where he figured about 60%-70% of shoppers were wearing masks. About an hour drive south at a mall in Ocean County, he says that most people were maskless.
New Jersey has often been a state divided. There’s the classing “Keith Line” from the 1600s that divided the colonies of East and West Jersey, the modern-day Pork Roll vs. Taylor Ham divide and whether or not Central Jersey exists.
Donohue says there is another divider that he calls the “Who Be Maskin’ Line.” He says that he is not sure where it zigs and zags across the state.
Wearing a mask during the pandemic has become a political issue, with blue areas still wearing masks and red areas typically going maskless.
“Bergen County is a bluer county, so you’re going to get more people who care about other people than some of the other counties where people only seem to care about themselves,” one Bergen County resident told Donohue.
Donohue says that he personally tries to go alone with the case numbers. He says that he didn’t wear a mask indoor for months, but started up again this week when new cases in New Jersey passed 25 per 100,000 people. He says it is his personal comfort line and is mostly in line with CDC guidelines.
But going by those guidelines, New Jersey’s “Who Be Maskin’ Line” seems to be a bit backward. Many people in Bergen County were wearing masks – with 83% of residents vaccinated. There is an infection rate of 33 for every 100,000 people.
But in Ocean County, where many were not wearing masks, the infection rate was nearly double that of Bergen County, with 63 infections for every 100,000 people. And only 59% of eligible residents are vaccinated.
Donohue admits that many New Jersey residents just seem to be going with the flow when it comes to masks – wearing them when they see others wearing them as well.
Sue Vampeenen told Donohue that she wears a mask near her house in Passaic County but not around her home in Ocean County. She says that despite Ocean County having a higher infection rate, she somehow feels safer without a mask on. Especially since she already had the virus.
“Up north...everyone is wearing a mask still. Down here, I have to say, I feel safer. I just do,” she says.