Murphy embraces going maskless in New Jersey
After a day of mask confusion on mass transit in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy hopes to have and "wrinkles" worked out soon.
When New Jersey Transit announced masks would still be required on trains and busses after a federal judge struck down the Biden administrations mass transit mask mandate, Murphy stepped in and said that was not the case.
He also didn't seem thrilled that PATH trains are still requiring riders to mask-up. "God willing," Murphy said during an event in Paterson, "We'll get that sorted out sooner or later."
PATH trains are run by the bi-state Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, so Murphy does not have the power to unilaterally say riders can take their masks off.
Murphy was asked if he was disappointed in the ruling invalidating the federal mask mandate. While he did not answer that question specifically, he said he believed the Biden administration was "headed that way anyway."
As for New Jersey, Murphy says, "We almost always take the lead from the feds."
We have a complete listing of where you still have to mask-up in New Jersey here.
A new Phil Murphy?
Murphy's comments Tuesday, and over the last two months, have been in stark contrast to what we heard over the first two years of the pandemic.
As the COVID pandemic began, Murphy imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the nation. The state was locked down for months, and even as Murphy began to relax some restrictions, he often did so at a slower pace than the neighboring states.
Murphy was among the last governors in the nation to lift the mask mandate in schools.
After two years of often speaking in dire terms, Murphy now appears almost cavalier about COVID.
His tone changed in January when, in an appearance on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' Murphy said "We're not going to manage this to zero. We have to learn how to live with this." At the time, New Jersey was seeing record numbers of new COVID cases and hospitalization were near 6,000.
He has repeated that sentiment multiple times when talking about COVID, even as infections continue rising in New Jersey.
Despite the increased metrics, Murphy continues to insist he sees no need to impose new restrictions, saying "These waves come and go."
Health officials reported 1,357 new COVID cases on Tuesday and another 11 deaths. Hospitalizations have increased to just below 400. That is still way off January's peak, but in the past would have triggered warnings from Murphy.
"We're probably in the soup for four to six weeks," Murphy said, "but nothing remotely like we've gone through before."
Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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