New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a man whose executive orders spread as fast as the COVID-19 virus, is on vacation.

He left Wednesday for Costa Rica with his family the same day the state reported nearly 10,000 new Covid cases in one day. After a record-breaking week of more than 6,000 new cases every day, this was a jaw-dropping number. This has never happened before during the pandemic.

If a Republican, let’s say Donald Trump for example, left the country while still leading it at a moment of such wild viral spread you can bet Murphy would be on camera talking about how irresponsible it was to be away during an outbreak crisis.

He will be gone for just over a week. Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver is in charge while he’s gone. More towns implemented their own mask mandates since New Jersey’s largest city of Newark did so. TCNJ announced remote classes coming back from winter break. Some public schools have already switched to virtual learning due to severe Covid outbreaks.

So it feels like something is coming. Something big. Murphy has said everything is on the table when asked about new restrictions.

'If a Republican, let’s say Donald Trump for example, left the country while still leading it at a moment of such wild viral spread you can bet Murphy would be on camera talking about how irresponsible it was'

Now remember he almost surely has his eye on the White House. He’s been working hard to burnish his progressive credentials. Assuming he’ll run in 2024 or 2028, will he want to be attacked in debates as the tyrannical governor who shut the state down a second time or brought back mask mandates, virtual schooling or mandatory vaccination for students?

No. He will want to keep his hands clean. And the Teflon he needs is one Sheila Oliver.

I can see it now. The daily numbers keep skyrocketing over the next two or three days. While serving as acting governor she imposes fresh restrictions. Murphy when asked will say, “She was acting governor at the time and she’s her own woman. I won’t question her decisions.”

He keeps his record clean albeit with an asterisk that he didn’t technically bring restrictions back. It’s b.s. and it’s coy gamesmanship but we see it all the time in politics.

So don’t be surprised if new restrictions are coming for them to be announced while he’s away. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if they’re announced on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when the least amount of people are paying attention.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now:

Where NJ's 'red wave' of the 2021 election was reddest

In 2017, Gov. Phil Murphy won the election by 14.1 percentage points, a margin exceeding 303,000. His re-election was much closer, an 84,000-vote, 3.2-point victory. He and others talked about a ‘red wave’ of Republican voters in the electorate, and certified results show which counties turned red most.

11 things that make a New Jersey diner a real diner