A constant refrain from Gov. Phil Murphy and his health official during the COVID-19 crisis has been the need to “mask up.”
Masks have been mandated when we go into stores, workplaces, in public when social distancing is not applicable and will be for children and staff going back to classrooms this September.
The message, while consistent, has been lost in translation as enforcement and application of wearing a mask has become inconsistent. Too often those wearing masks in a public—walking around the Jersey Shore, house parties, high school graduation ceremonies, taking a walk in a park—are a minority.
Fatigue has begun to set in for the general public, something the governor acknowledge at his Aug. 7 press briefing. “I know we’re all getting a little fatigued, but we cannot give coronavirus one more inch,” he said. “Let’s keep doing what we need to do to get our numbers back down.”
To combat the fatigue, it is time for Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Health to mandate the wearing of a mask at all times in all situations. And politicians on both sides of the aisle must be leaders in wearing masks at all times when interacting in public and private settings.
We have listened to the argument that the forcing one to wear a mask is freedom issue and we would agree. But there are few and specific cases where personal freedoms should be set aside for the greater good of the community and nation you live in. A national pandemic that has sickened nearly 5 million and killed 160,000 of our fellow citizens since March falls under the category.
Gov. Murphy showed this week he is willing to rollback restrictions when health data metrics are not going in the right direction. Expanding the mask mandate will help New Jersey in this endeavor.
With the cold and flu season coming right around the quarter, actions such as mandating mask and making sure it is enforced by law enforcement is a must to keep the predicted second wave of the coronavirus at a minimum.
The time to act is now and not before the health data forces the state to rollback restrictions further.