NEW JERSEY, NJ — Masks are making a comeback in New Jersey as Governor Phil Murphy and state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli announced today they “strongly recommend” masking in indoor settings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents due to increased risk.

This recommendation follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s own mask announcement on Tuesday due to the delta variant spurring a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases across the country.

“Our metrics are trending in the wrong direction, and new data suggests the Delta variant is more transmissible even among vaccinated individuals, which is why we are making this strong recommendation,” said Murphy and Persichilli in a joint statement.

Examples of situations where New Jersey residents should mask up include:

  • Crowded indoor settings
  • Indoor settings involving activities with close contact with others who may not be fully vaccinated
  • Indoor settings where the vaccine status of other individuals in the setting is unknown
  • Where an individual is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease

“Fortunately, our numbers are a fraction of those in many other states, most of which have significantly lower vaccination rates. Should our numbers reach those levels, we reserve the right to take more drastic action, including a statewide mask mandate,” said Murphy and Persichilli.

In New Jersey, Monmouth County has been labeled as one of the areas with a “substantial and high transmission” of the coronavirus. Read More: Monmouth County Is in ‘High’ Transmission Zone for Mask Wearing

In fact, Monmouth County was actually showing the highest transmission rates in the state of New Jersey, as per July 25, the last time the CDC updated the map.

Bergen, Essex, Union, Middlesex, Ocean, Burlington and Atlantic counties all showed “substantial” transmission rates while all of New Jersey’s remaining counties show low transmission rates.

As of Wednesday, there were 824 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey, 342 new probable cases, 3 lab-confirmed deaths and two hospital confirmed deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the state’s data.

“We have crushed this virus repeatedly like no other state in the nation, and we are proud to boast among the country’s highest vaccination rates. But at this point, given where our metrics are now, we feel the best course of action is to strongly encourage every New Jerseyan, and every visitor to our state, to take personal responsibility and mask up indoors when prudent,” said Murphy and Persichilli. “And we equally encourage every unvaccinated resident or visitor to get vaccinated. The vaccines are proven safe and highly effective, and are the surest way we can end this pandemic.”

Have a news tip? Email

Get Patch breaking news alerts sent right to your phone with our new app. Download here. Don’t miss local and statewide announcements. Sign up for Patch alerts and daily newsletters.