CDC guidance spurs statewide masking in N.J. and calls for vaccination, worry about restrictions in Pa.
New Jersey recommended all residents, even those vaccinated, wear masks in public indoor places. In Pennsylvania, some counties were grappling with rising cases.
New Jersey recommended Wednesday that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, resume wearing masks in public indoor settings, effectively extending Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued for certain areas Tuesday to the entire state.
Warning that a statewide mask mandate or other restrictions could become necessary if case numbers spike, Gov. Phil Murphy was one of many officials in the region and nation Wednesday to urge those who haven’t been vaccinated to get their shots now.
The recommendations, which urge even vaccinated residents to wear masks indoors if the setting is crowded or if unvaccinated or immunocompromised people are present, reflects the danger posed by a nationwide resurgence of the virus driven by the highly contagious delta variant. It also heightened calls Wednesday for unvaccinated people, who are largely the ones getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying in places with outbreaks, to get immunized.
“There are still large swaths of people who are unvaccinated, and those people are putting the rest of us at risk. That’s the long and the short of it,” said Herb Conaway, a physician and director of the Health Department in Burlington County, one of 10 counties in New Jersey with substantial or high transmission.
The handful of New Jersey and Pennsylvania counties that fell under the CDC’s guidance as of Wednesday morning were taking action. Burlington County was working to spread the word about the new recommendations. Officials in Monroe County, north of Allentown, said they would mandate masks in county buildings and encouraged residents to wear masks and get shots.
“There is vaccine in abundance in Monroe County — we just need arms to put it into,” said emergency management director Maryellen Keegan, who said misinformation has caused the county’s vaccination rate to stagnate. “We need folks to step up and get it. Because in the end, they have the power to stop this.”