With his pandemic emergency powers due to expire at midnight and COVID-19 cases still at historic highs, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a new public health emergency in on Tuesday, extending a number of executive orders that implemented various COVID-19 mandates.
Amid a feud with the state legislature that imperiled his ability to preserve mandates by executive order, Murphy's declaration of a state of emergency allows him to continue a variety of policies related to masking, vaccination and other COVID measures.
It also lets him continue a mandate requiring masks in schools and daycares without exception. It was his declaration Monday that he would extend that mandate one way or another that sparked the latest fight with the legislature.
The recently re-elected governor, in an MSNBC interview, said his team was still negotiating as of about 1:30 p.m. on a deal to somehow extend his pandemic powers. The governor indicated that he hoped to have something to announce later in the evening; his pre-recorded State of the State address is due to be delivered at 5 p.m.
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Asked what would happen if no deal was struck, in terms of who would then have control over things like masking and other mandates, Murphy said he didn't even want to consider the question.
"I'm confident enough that we're going to have a good statewide solution," he said instead.
New Jersey has consistently reported more than 20,000 new COVID cases a day so far this year, and hospitalizations and deaths are currently running at levels last seen in April and May of 2020.