NEW YORK, Aug.6 (Reuters) – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Friday said students and staff in Kindergarten to Grade 12 must wear masks indoors regardless of immunization status during of the opening of public schools, because the Delta variant of the coronavirus threatens Americans more and more.
Reversing his previous position to comply with updated federal guidelines, Murphy told a press conference that the change is a reaction to worsening COVID-19 indicators in the state.
“There are issues that are and should always stay above politics, and this one is one of them,” said Murphy, a Democrat who is the only incumbent US governor to be reelected this fall.
The debate over wearing masks in American schools reignited last month when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed the course and recommended that all students and staff wear masks in school, regardless of status. vaccine.
A policy patchwork has emerged from state to state, and even city to city, around the issue that has become deeply political in the United States. Read more
In New Jersey, COVID-19 cases have increased 105% in the past two weeks, according to a Reuters analysis of public health data. Hospitalizations have increased 92% in the past four weeks, the data shows.
About 67% of New Jersey residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination rates in the United States vary widely from a high of 76% of Vermont residents receiving a first dose to a low of 41% in Mississippi. (Graph of vaccination rates in the United States)
States with lower vaccination rates were hit hardest by the fast-spreading variant.
Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi accounted for half of the nation’s new cases and hospitalizations in the past week, White House officials said.
Immunization rates tend to be lower in these states than in other parts of the country.
On the other end of Murphy’s spectrum from New Jersey, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been a strong advocate for freedom of choice over vaccines and masks, even with a recent increase in cases and hospitalizations.
Florida reported a record 22,783 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, its highest single-day case count since the start of the pandemic, according to CDC data. The state also hospitalized 13,427 people, breaking a record for the fifth consecutive day, the US Department of Health and Human Services reported.
The State Board of Education on Friday passed an emergency rule that would allow parents to transfer their child to another school “when a student is harassed in response to COVID-19 mitigation protocols. ‘a school district’, including mask protocols.
The new rule allows parents to transfer their children to a private school or school in another district as part of the Hope Scholarship Program, originally created to allow public school students who are bullied or harassed. to move to another institution.
In an emergency meeting called by the board, a parent called the rule a “moral outrage” which equated a school’s masquerade mandate with harassment and bullying.
In a separate emergency decision on Friday, the state health department said school districts could require students to wear face covers, but gave parents the right to allow their children to sleep. withdraw from the requirement, reported the SunSentinel.
DeSantis last week issued an executive order blocking mandates for masks in state schools. It was not clear whether the health department’s rule complied with the decree.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki reiterated the administration’s concern on state-level efforts to prevent localities from imposing policies consistent with public health guidelines on Friday.
A record 13,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Florida on Friday, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York and Anurag Maan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Jeff Mason in Washington and Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Alistair Bell
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