Masks should be nationally required against COVID-19: Gov. Murphy
Gov. Phil Murphy said there should be a national requirement for mask-wearing to try and help slow the spread of COVID-19, when asked about the preventative measure on Sunday's "Meet The Press" on NBC.
"It's become almost not even debatable. Certainly when you're going out and absolutely indoors," Murphy said during the remote TV interview, while standing on an Ocean County beach in Berkeley Township.
At least 22 states and Washington D.C. had a mask requirement of some degree to limit the spread of COVID-19 as of Sunday — with 2,839,436 confirmed cases and 129,676 deaths nationwide according to the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine COVID-19 data project.
Pres. Donald Trump said he was "all for masks" during a FOX Business interview last week.
Over the holiday weekend, face coverings remained optional for crowds at two large outdoor events attended by the president at both Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and outside the White House in Washington D.C.
“I don't know if you need mandatory, because you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance. You talk about social distancing. But I'm all for masks,” Trump said in a FOX Business interview with Blake Burman on Wednesday, July 1.
"This virus is a lot more lethal inside than outside, but if you're leaving your house, put on a mask," Murphy said. Murphy also said that NJ was seeing "small spikes" in re-infection, partly due to people coming back to New Jersey from hot spots like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Florida.
Hoboken was one community dealing with such a travel impact, with more than a dozen new COVID-19 cases reported over a two-day span, all related to travel to states with rising rates of the novel coronavirus, according to city officials.
Of 6 cases confirmed Thursday and 7 cases Friday, 12 of the patients recently had traveled to Florida, Texas, North Carolina or South Carolina, Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla said Saturday in a press release on Twitter.
All 13 of the patients were under the age of 45, with the majority between the ages of 20 and 35, Bhalla said, adding some of those who tested positive had not yet shown symptoms of infection.
Bhalla urged residents to avoid travel to such areas when possible and said "If you are traveling, avoid group gatherings and indoor settings and wear a face mask." He continued those traveling to any hot spot states should "quarantine for a full 14 days and get a COVID test at least 5 days after returning."
Cape May County also has made a plea to visitors to wear face coverings whenever possible, as officials said the majority of recent cases were patients between the ages of 16 and 22, "socializing without regard to the threats of spreading coronavirus."
“We continue to call on businesses and individuals to practice proper social distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing a mask when in the public,” Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said.
As of Sunday, New Jersey had 173,033 confirmed cases of COVID-19 based on test results and 13,333 confirmed deaths, with another 1,856 "probable deaths" linked to coronavirus, according to state health officials.
During the same Sunday interview, Murphy said “we have nothing but sympathy” for restaurant owners but that delaying indoor dining this month was a public health necessity, or else "We literally lose lives."
"When you combine indoors, lack of ventilation, sedentary, close proximity, and by definition, you have to take your mask off to eat, those are bad facts and we're just not there yet," Murphy said, adding "We'll get there I hope, but we're not ready for it." Murphy said the continued restaurant restrictions are "why we need direct federal cash assistance to states so that we can help those restaurants and small businesses out."
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order July 2 that requires face coverings in public for residents in counties with 20 or more active cases. "Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said.
Oregon was among the most recent additions. “I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing. If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a written statement.
As of July 5, the following states required masks or face coverings in some facet of public settings:
The official governor's beach house is in Berkeley Township, within Island Beach State Park.
It was not immediately clear if Murphy was spending a portion of the weekend at the residence, for which access comes with the elected office.