Vaccinated and unvaccinated residents in New Jersey should wear masks indoors when there is an increased risk of spreading COVID-19, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.
Murphy, a Democrat, said the state’s coronavirus metrics are going in the wrong direction, and new data suggest the delta variant is more transmissible, “which is why we are making this strong recommendation.”
Instances where masks are recommended include: crowded indoor settings, those involving close contact with others who aren’t fully vaccinated and those where someone’s vaccine status is unknown.
Murphy made the recommendation in a joint statement with Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
It comes just a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance. The federal guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week. That includes 60% of U.S. counties, officials said. New case rates are particularly high in the South and Southwest, according to a CDC tracker.
In New Jersey, CDC data shows eight of the state’s 21 counties fall in that category.
The CDC guidance also called for masks for teachers, staff and students in schools regardless of vaccination status.
Murphy’s recommendation didn’t address schools. Murphy spokesperson Alyana Alfaro Post said Wednesday there was no update yet on masks in schools.
New Jersey has among the highest percentages of people vaccinated in the country.
“We have crushed this virus repeatedly like no other state in the nation, and we are proud to boast among the country’s highest vaccination rates,” Murphy and Persichilli said in a statement. “But at this point, given where our metrics are now, we feel the best course of action is to strongly encourage every New Jerseyan, and every visitor to our state, to take personal responsibility and mask up indoors when prudent.”
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Jersey rose over past two weeks from 312 on July 12 to 732 on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins.