New Jersey governor to CDC: We're keeping our indoor mask mandate in effect, thanks

Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool


What about the science?

I thought blue states were following The Science™.

Now that the science says it’s time to relax restrictions, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has decided he’ll be following some sort of higher science.

Seventy percent, huh? No state has vaccinated that many, and if Murphy means full vaccination, New Jersey’s only a little more than halfway there at 43 percent. (Fifty-five percent have had first doses.) Increasing a state’s vaccination numbers will only get harder from here on out too now that we’re through all the eager recipients and are trying to coax the holdouts into getting jabbed. Jerseyites could be waiting awhile for that mandate to lift.

Noah Rothman notes that it was just 17 days ago that Murphy said, “We will certainly, as we always do, take the CDC guidance seriously and work with that guidance and continue to open our state up.” Back then he must have assumed, as we all did, that the CDC was still many months away from greenlighting an end to (nearly) all restrictions on vaccinated people. Surprise?

Murphy elaborated on his reasoning in a Twitter thread this afternoon. Just a few more weeks, he pleaded:

He’s not wrong about Fauci kinda sorta contradicting the CDC yesterday. Fauci didn’t come out in favor of indoor mask mandates but clearly he wants local governments to have some leeway to keep them in place:

TAPPER: Many states and cities still have masks mandates in place, should local governments, state governments drop those mandates for people who are vaccinated?

FAUCI: Well, for people who were vaccinated, that’s another story. But the problem they’re going to find, Jake, from a public health standpoint, since you can’t completely validate that someone’s vaccinated except depending upon them telling you that if you drop the mask mandate, then you might have an increase in infection among those who are not vaccinated. So that’s the kind of dicey situation that you’re in when you’re trying to deal about policy at the local level when you have a high degree of transmission. That’s not an easy decision to make.

“When you have a high degree of transmission.” Does New Jersey? Their positivity rate is down to a mere 1.7 percent.

On the other hand, looking at New Jersey’s case curve, I can understand why Murphy’s reluctant to take his foot off the gas. Not until a few weeks ago did the state begin to see real improvement after its winter peak. In fact, cases *rose* in New Jersey during the month of March. No wonder Murphy’s spooked that if they ease up before they get closer to herd immunity they’ll be back in the soup:

He’s probably looking at that and thinking, “Why should I trust the CDC now when they’ve been wrong about nearly everything to this point?” I can’t fault him. I made the same point earlier myself.

Other governors are wrestling today with how to respond to the new CDC guidance. Ed noted that Minnesota’s Democratic chief executive, Tim Walz, overruled his own health commissioner and lifted restrictions. Democrat Roy Cooper also ditched most mask mandates and capacity limits in North Carolina but kept a few rules in place. (E.g., masking on mass transit and in schools.) I’ll leave you with the most surprising newly minted anti-masker of the day, though, someone who gained a national reputation last year for being a hardass about COVID restrictions — and whose state was struggling mightily with the virus just a month ago. Watch below. When Whitmer said she was going to follow the CDC’s guidance, she wasn’t kidding.