Gov. Phil Murphy again dismissed criticism that he is ignoring CDC guidance and recommendations from his own health commissioner when it comes to wearing a mask indoors.

At Monday's COVID briefing, Murphy said "folks are reaching for straws" in questioning him going maskless at two recent fundraisers. Murphy then claimed, "I don't think anyone in the state wears a mask indoors more than I do.” County Education Association County Education Association

He was seen without a mask at the crowded Equality Ball in Asbury Park on Oct. 7. Asked about it during the last gubernatorial debate, Murphy dismissed the criticism and claimed he only had the mask off when he was on stage. Photos of the event show few, if any, attendees were masked.

However, days later, Murphy was again seen without a mask at a fundraiser sponsored by Monmouth County Democrats. There was no stage, and he was seen seated at a table with U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). In photos of the event, no one at the table was masked.

Asked to explain why he was seen without a mask at a crowded indoor event for the second time in less than a week, Murphy said, "I sat at a table...with people who I know were vaccinated."


However, that explanation is still in opposition to guidance from the CDC and state health officials.

Monmouth is listed as 'high' risk for community spread, according to the CDC COVID tracker, and masking is recommended regardless of vaccination status.

To reduce the risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) including the Delta variant, and potentially spreading it to others, CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission. -

The invitation to the Monmouth fundraiser stated: "This event will follow the CDC guidelines in place at the time of the event." Based on photos of the event, that does not appear to be the case.

The New Jersey Department of health website states: face masks are strongly recommended for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor settings where there is increased risk, including: "crowded indoor settings" and "where an individual is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease."

Murphy could be considered at high risk after having a cancerous tumor removed from his kidney in March of 2020.

The CDC recommends, "if you have cancer now or had cancer in the past, you may need to take special steps to protect your health." These include wearing a mask and avoiding crowds and indoor spaces.

The governor still contends that he masks up more than most, "I had it on when I came in, and I put it on when I left.”

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