Mask mandates continue to expand in New Jersey
🔺 Mask mandates are returning at New Jersey hospitals
🔺 All staff, patients and guests are being required to mask-up
🔺 Gov. Murphy remains silent on a statewide mask mandate
As COVID-19 admissions continue to rise at New Jersey Hospitals, more facilities are implementing new mask mandates.
While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to list community infection rates as 'low' for the majority of the Garden State, there are regions where transmission rates are elevated.
As of Sept. 23, Atlantic, Cape May, Hunterdon and Warren counties were reporting the COVID-19 hospital admission level was 'medium,' per the CDC.
New Jersey's second largest hospital group, Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH), is now requiring staff, patients and visitors to mask-up before entering most of their facilities.
On Monday, HMH implemented a mask mandate at Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Old Bridge Medical Center and Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead.
On Thursday, HMH added eight more locations.
🏥 JFK University Medical Center (Edison)
🏥Palisades Medical Center (North Bergen)
🏥Ocean University Medical Center
🏥Riverview Medical Center (Red Bank)
🏥Southern Ocean Medical Center (Stafford)
"This decision was made due to an increase in COVID-19 prevalence in these hospitals and communities," HMH hospital officials said in a statement.
New Jersey's largest hospital network, RWJ/Barnabas Health, urges patients and visitors to wear a mask, but compliance remains voluntary.
The RWJ/Barnabas website states: Masks are optional except when indicated on specific units or in identified areas. We will offer you a new mask for source control or may ask you to replace your own mask with a hospital-supplied mask.
More mask mandates to come?
New Jersey officials from the Department of Health are urging people to get the new COVID-19 vaccination which they say will protect from the latest virus mutations.
Gov. Phil Murphy has largely been silent on the issue of returning to a universal mask mandate.
Murphy has said he doesn't foresee that happening unless transmission and infection rates take a dramatic rise, but encouraged people to mask-up if they felt they needed to.
"Just because its not mandated doesn’t mean you can’t wear a mask yourself,” he said on News12 New Jersey, "If you feel comfortable, based on your circumstances wearing one, go ahead and wear one."
While the number of COVID-19 infections has been rising in New Jersey, the rates are still a fraction of what they were during the pandemic.
Health officials say that is due to the number of people who have been vaccinated or have acquired natural immunity after being infected.
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