Gov. Phil Murphy said he is aware of "constructive criticisms" of his use of executive orders during the coronavirus pandemic as well as those he believes are trying to score political points

During an interview on NJTV's "Chat Box with David Cruz," the governor was asked about concerns that he is "ruling by decree" after declaring a state of emergency.

"Some of the the constructive criticisms that we get that are responsible we take very seriously," Murphy said, adding that neither he nor top national disease experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have all the answers about how to handle the pandemic.

"So if it's constructive, responsible, even if it's angry, input we've reacted at every step with I think a spirit of trying to find the right answer," Murphy said.

The governor said it was "ludicrous" to claim that he has let the executive powers go to his head and that he finds "joy" in requiring face masks. He ticked off social distancing, face coverings, hand washing and staying home if you don't feel well as facts in stopping the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 and that has killed more than 13,500 people in New Jersey since March.

New Jersey's numbers have been improving while states in the South and West that either reopened sooner, imposed social-distancing measures later — or both — are seeing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and deaths roaring up.

"So folks who tee off for some political point are irresponsible and they're putting people's lives at stake," Murphy said. "So let's cut that crap out. Let's stick to the basics and the facts and we'll be a lot better for it."

The governor said he had not paid attention to calls to limit the length of executive orders or to involve the Legislature in decision making.

Murphy earlier in the week angrily replied to criticism about the mask mandate from state Sen. Mike Doherty on his Twitter account. The conservative Republican said the governor was "exploiting a public health crisis for power."

Murphy's all-caps response, which got nearly four times as many likes and retweets than the message by the Warren County lawmaker: "STOP PLAYING POLITICS WITH PEOPLE’S LIVES."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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